Law firms can benefit from automating certain front-office and back-office tasks — from processing case inquiries and forms to searching for documents to organizing files — enabling attorneys and legal assistants to focus on white-glove services for their clients. Examples of how law firms have leveraged RPA include classification, extraction, and processing of structured and unstructured data from legal documents, as well as contextual searching of information across data sources. Imagine a bot that creates indexable PDFs of all documents related to a case — a potential significant change for use in litigation and in presenting documents to opposing counsel.
Case Study: RPA In Immigration Legal Services
BAL’s use of automation exemplifies how law firms can creatively and strategically customize automation. The firm created an automation project team to identify front- and back-office processes suitable for automation and applied automation to new client onboarding, client request management, and administrative and clerical tasks. BAL added a UiPath connector that uses RPA software to easily automate functions within its case management system called “Cobalt,” which provides BAL’s legal teams and clients with automated usability, speed, quality and “anytime, anywhere” case management. The UiPath connector enables BAL’s corporate clients to automate functions within Cobalt. For example, onboarding a new client would normally require manual intake for hundreds of the client’s employees and their family members per month.
For law firms looking into RPA technology, the first step is to consider automating the “low-hanging fruit” types of processes. For example, firms spend a lot of time interacting with clients on case statuses. In the BAL example above, opening access to the internal case management system quickly using RPA and other technologies can yield valuable hours that staff can spend on more important tasks. It is important to spend time upfront on process analysis and discovery because a detailed analysis of “automatable” processes helps in creating a clear road map for success. In addition, it’s also important to establish clear ROI goals, whether it’s cost reduction or hours saved.
Most of the legal industry leaders express optimism toward automation technology. In the 2018 LexisNexis Insights report (subscription required) “Legal Technology: Looking Past the Hype,” 57% of the general counsel surveyed believed technology investments had already increased productivity, and 60% believed that the technology would help improve the accuracy of legal work in the next few years. However, despite their favorable view of automation, law firms have been slow to include process automation within their organizations compared to other industries such as banking, finance, and energy. I believe law firms that seek to improve their business services and streamline repetitive tasks should explore the possibilities of automation.