In recent years, the popularity and prevalence of robotic process automation within the legal sector has rocketed – and it’s not hard to see why. Robotic Process Automation – or RPA – is software which automates the work that’s traditionally done by humans. It’s especially useful for companies who have to process significant amounts of data – and during a time when 82% of legal teams are facing increased workloads, yet only 28% are hiring, having your own “digital workforce” becomes even more valuable.
The benefits of robotic process automation
Before exploring practical applications of RPA within the legal sector, let’s take a look at precisely why it’s so beneficial. Perhaps most obviously, RPA can save firms serious amounts of money: according to In-House Lawyer, RPA can provide a 4,080% saving compared to human workforce costs. It also increases processing speed since computers can work faster than people, and increases accuracy since computers don’t make human errors.
RPA also provides legal teams with scalable technology, improved access to management information, and 24-hour delivery – since a digital workforce isn’t constrained by time, schedules, or the basic need to rest. By taking on the more mundane and repetitive (but vitally necessary) legal and compliance tasks, RPA allows skilled legal professionals to focus on high-value legal work without compromising operational efficiency.
Ultimately, the biggest benefit of robotic process automation is that it gives legal teams the gift of time. Research shows that utilizing RPA allows teams to reclaim 40% of their time, meaning that highly-skilled legal professionals can focus on the stuff that really matters: actually practicing the law.
RPA considerations for the legal industry
There are, of course, plenty of things to consider when implementing RPA. You’ll need to think about security: what data will your software have access to? What data protection might you need to introduce? Depending on the application of RPA you’re looking at, you’ll also have to carefully consider the potential impact on your people: will it lead to a risk of redundancy? Will roles need to be re-profiled? Finally, if the RPA will be used within a regulated sector like financial services, you need to ensure you are still able to comply with regulatory requirements. Check out this list of considerations that legal firms should factor in before knowledgeably embracing RPA.
Top 4 RPA applications for legal teams
1. Time capture for client billing
Due to how long it takes to close a case, and the unpredictability of how much resource you’ll need, legal billing can be complex. Fee overruns can lead to cost disputes and resistance with clients, so having a honest and transparent way of billing is extremely valuable. RPA can track all billable legal hours automatically for completely transparent and accurate client billing. By removing the need to manually track time, assign case hours or create timesheets, it offers huge efficiency gains for firms looking to eliminate the pain and overhead of essential daily admin.
Building a strong case requires tackling inordinate amounts of data and information. Managing all that data efficiently is an expensive, time-consuming challenge for most legal firms – and while you can use e-discovery programs, they still require someone to sieve through what is and isn’t relevant. Thankfully, RPA has the aptitude for flexible data management, making it an ideal solution for streamline and speeding up the e-discovery process.
3. Assessing client risk
When you’re using automation, assessing client risk is a much quicker process. RPA operates across pre-existing document management, e-discovery or law practice management applications, and can complete tasks that can take a paralegal team days in a fraction of the time. One example of this can be seen in processing anti-money laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing risk assessment forms: RPA can draw information from relevant documents and place them in a single file where they run reports and build a solid client profile. This RPA application usually results in a 10-15% reduction in admin costs.
4. Assessing financial risk
According to McKinsey’s Global Institute, 56% of financial planning and analysis, and 20% of risk management activities, can be successfully automated. Rather than having bookkeepers and legal assistants hunting for different sources and trying to dig up information about credit rating, RPA can automatically find, gather and register financial risk. It can also help legal teams recognize the opportunity cost of taking a case, and figure out whether the time and effort that will be required is worth it. This allows legal teams to be more self-reliant and reduces the risk of making a loss.