By Steve J. Tie Shue, Sr. Director – Product Marketing
The confluence of increasingly ambitious client expectations, notable breakthroughs in Legal Tech, and an unavoidable need to embrace remote work environments should motivate lawyers to become early adopters and evangelists of workflow automation within their law firms. This emerged as the key takeaway during Datasite’s recent discussion with M&A legal advisors from several global firms on how to overcome common transaction management pain points.
Assuming the role of technology champion can be a daunting task in large and small law firms alike. However, the very real benefits of reducing non-billable time and helping the law firm profitability during economically challenging times make it a challenge worth accepting. Our panelists focused on four core recommendations to help other lawyers capitalize on the opportunity.
Legal teams are increasingly being asked to do more in less time. For example, most legal advisors on M&A transactions currently report needing to complete due diligence within thirty days. Before finding yourself overwhelmed by a long list of tasks that need to be completed, our panel experts have a simple recommendation. Start by identifying the end goal. What is the final deliverable owed to the client? Then ask yourself which tools and resources are needed to achieve the desired outcome in the time permitted. And, as you work through this process, activate and continually update a checklist to track your progress throughout the matter lifecycle.
Many applications and resources already accessible to most legal teams have automation and programmatic capabilities to significantly reduce worktimes. Our panel recommends working with others at your law firm to become familiar with them. During intake and research, this may include taking advantage of premium data room features like bulk uploads, user and document-level permissions, and auto-indexing to make information share-ready quickly in a few simple steps. Similarly, spending time to learn advanced word processor functions like the legal blackline option, wildcards, and combining track changes from different authors can shave hours off of the document drafting and review process for even the most seasoned lawyers.
Automation of redaction, checklists, and contract management have all been well received by the legal community in recent years. However, the anticipation and intrigue artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) inspires is largely unmatched. First-hand experience with AI/ML tools among our panelists varied but they all agreed lawyers should proactively take advantage of opportunities to test and pilot these new capabilities. During our discussion it was also noted that law firms who don’t embrace AI/ML willingly will likely find themselves falling behind those who do.
Audience polling seemingly supported this perspective. AI/ML (30.2%) trailed only checklists (44.2%) in terms of productivity hacks likely to have the greatest impact on workflow productivity.
Although Legal Tech has experienced several major breakthroughs in recent years, long-term adoption has proven elusive for many. Audience polling during the webinar suggests price considerations (37%) and a belief that existing tools are good enough (26%) are the primary challenges to the introduction of new solutions into legal team workflows.
However, our panel of experts believe lawyers should be assertive in volunteering to sit on committees that explore and test new technology solutions to address these common objections directly. In doing so, you gain the opportunity to provide context for how these emerging technologies may prove to be meaningful value-adds for customers, profitability gains for the law firm, and ultimately competitive differentiators from other legal advisors.