Everyday, it seems like there is a new article published about how automation will irrevocably change the legal field in the coming years. Lawyers are afraid that automation signals the end of law practice as we know it, replacing many of the functions of an attorney with computers. While it is true to a certain extent that some legal work will be the domain of computers in the future, the news is not all bad. In fact, the best use for automation is not to replace law practice, but to augment it in such a way that lawyers become more efficient and effective than ever before.
Computers are indeed better at high volume, simple, repetitive tasks. However, they struggle with many of the more complex, unstructured tasks that call for creativity and problem solving. Fortunately, lawyers excel at the latter.
Thus, the most effective way to increase the productivity of a law practice is to use a combination of the two. Together, lawyers and computers will accomplish more to optimize the practice of law than either could on their own.
Still wondering what automation can do for your practice? Here are some reasons you might want to start to consider incorporating automation software into your workflow.
(1) Automation Streamlines Your Workflow
Can you think of any processes in your law practice that could benefit from being made more efficient, even in a small way?
Things like automating formatting, numbering and spell check, while second nature to most attorneys, are all examples of early automation innovations. Now, predictive analytics, billing software, timekeeping applications, client intake platforms and practice management software, are being widely adopted by firms to increase productivity and streamline workflows. These types of software applications may promote efficiency because they eliminate many routine, repetitive tasks that lawyers and paralegals used to do by hand.
(2) Automation Can Eliminate Your Mistakes
If a task can be done consistently and predictably every time, then it is likely a good candidate for automation. Fortunately, the practice of law is full of these types of tasks. However, these tasks also create prime conditions for mistakes. High volume work increases error rates, and predictable tasks require less concentration and focus, increasing the chance you will make a mistake.
Automation takes high volume, routine tasks out of the hands of lawyers and puts into the capable, metaphorical hands of a computer. Enter information correctly once and the computer will enter it correctly every time thereafter, ensuring your tasks remain error free.
(3) Automation Can Increase the Value of Your Work Product
Since automation can handle repeated, manual tasks that cannot be billed to the client, you can devote that extra time to completing substantive work. Streamlining billable hours can increase the efficiency of your legal work, which can help you lower your costs and rates. In turn, lowering your costs and rates increases the value of your work product and gives you a competitive advantage over rival firms.
Implementing small automation tweaks to processes that are already in place provides the largest return on investment. Start small with items like alerts and timekeeping and build from there— there is no need to reinvent the wheel to see the benefits.
While automation is often applied to simple tasks, it can still be useful to tackle complex areas of the law like patent prosecution. LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® helps automate prosecution tasks to make your prosecution practice more efficient. Many automation functions, like prosecution recommendations, auto-generation of statistics, and prosecution update alerts, are incorporated into the PatentAdvisor platform, enhancing the productivity of your patent practice.