Busted! 5 Persistent Myths About Legal Process Automation
It’s surprising that myths and mistaken assumptions still persist when it comes to legal process automation adoption.
2020 may have been an inflection point for the legal industry when it comes to legal process automation and the use of technology to streamline and accelerate legal operations. But there are still some in the legal industry who still hesitate to consider legal process automation. Often, it’s because they’ve bought into some fusty falsehoods about it.
So let’s take a look at a few of the myths that keep cropping up, and explain why the opposite actually holds true in each case.
“It’s too expensive!”
In a word? No. Business operators at the SMB end of the scale often think that workflow and process automation is too pricey for their organization, and their in-house legal teams may fall prey to that mistaken assumption.
The reality? It’s too expensive to not implement a legal workflow automation solution of some kind, in terms of waste and lost opportunity. That owes to the simple fact that the operating costs of manual processes are far, far larger than those of an automated system.
Utilizing a manual process for matters like an NDA is one obvious example: The hours spent by either attorneys or Legal Ops staffers in processing NDAs are hours that aren’t being used on more productive (let alone profitable) legal matters.
Processing an NDA shouldn‘t require human intervention when you can avail yourself of online self-service forms and automated routing to ensure the process is accelerated, accurate, and eyes-off (except at any points you designate).
Moreover, a SaaS-based legal workflow automation system doesn’t entail upfront investments in hardware or recurrent maintenance and scales to need. That makes it affordable and sensible from the start. And the ease of adoption (see below) involved in the best systems means you’ll see ROI nearly immediately.
“Adoption is too hard.”
The best modern legal workflow automation solutions are made “for the rest of us.” In other words, they’re no-code solutions, intuitive and easy to learn and deploy, and don’t require much IT involvement, if any.
Moreover, a SaaS-based solution can be up and running in hours or days, not weeks or months. So users can begin putting together workflows and forms using drag-and-drop UI tools almost immediately.
This ease of adoption gets everyone on board much more quickly, so the entire legal department can segue to process automation as a team.
Is adopting a legal process automation solution more complex than, say, doing nothing? Possibly. But the costs of doing nothing, as we’ve already seen, are prohibitive.
“We lack the expertise to buy the right product.”
Nobody likes to make a mistake, especially when it comes to buying business software. Fortunately, the fact that a good legal process automation solution is likely to be SaaS, not requiring sunk costs in onsite architecture, mitigates some of those worries.
Good ways to find the right product, even if you’re a first-time adopter? First of all, check with peers and industry review sites to see what offerings are out there, and if companies similar to your own have used a legal process automation solution. Then there are guides that can help steer you through writing an RFP that will precisely define what you want from prospective providers.
The main thing to remember? You shouldn’t have to adapt your business to fit the solution; the right software will be flexible and customizable enough to work within your requirements.
“We’ll lose control of our work.”
The argument here seems to be that a legal matter or document vanishes into a sort of black hole when it’s part of an automated legal process. And that somehow the ability to be literally “hands-on” with a process and paperwork is more secure or reassuring.
That argument loses credibility, of course, when one is dredging through file cabinets in search of a mislaid contract. Manual, paper-driven processes offer less control, and are absolutely more prone to error.
The truth is that a good legal process automation solution will utilize dashboards capable of tracking every stage of every digitized process, so you’ve gained precise control and awareness of that workflow and all attached documents and notifications.
“I’ll lose my job!”
It’s reasonable to expect this fallacy to persist, since the meme seems to be that automation results in job losses. But it hasn’t proven to be true in high-skill, intellectual-product sectors like legal services.
Ever heard the ATM argument? That when ATMs were introduced in 1969, it would be the death knell for bank tellers. But ATMs made it cost-effective to set up more banking locations, so the number of tellers has actually increased over the years.
Similarly, legal technology has increased the opportunities for law firms and legal departments to address new legal tasks and take on a much higher volume of work that was previously possible. Lawyers and staff can now devote their highly paid attention to those high-value areas where their skills are best deployed, versus being bogged down in routinized gruntwork.
Seen in that light? Thanks to legal process automation, an individual’s legal skills will become even more valuable to the enterprise, not less.