The rise in automation in the legal sector

Historically, automation within the legal sector has been confined to linear and higher volume processes such as conveyancing, personal injury and debt recovery. This is changing. Providers of legal software systems are increasingly catering for a blend of “matter management” and traditional “case management”.

Much of this has been driven by legislative change and onerous rules governing compliance. These days even ad hoc work has to adhere to standard procedures and conventions. This has spurred the evolution of “bite sized chunks” of workflow and specifically targeted automation. Without such automation it is increasingly difficult for the modern practice to compete and survive from an operational and business perspective.

It won’t stop there. The move to have standardised systems on “every desk” has created an opportunity for further and closer integration between different departments within the firm. Everything, ranging from requests for payments and the authorisation of bills through to the monitoring and notification of risk can be centralised and shared throughout the organisation.

Automation will progressively support more and more complex processes. By using artificial intelligence collected from historic cases, systems will evolve to prescribe the basis for charging and indeed the approach to the work itself. Even with extremely variable work there will be the ability to configure case plans with automated components based on previous experience.

We are already seeing the progression of sophisticated, software, “robots” that can make intelligent decisions and can be available 24/7 in an ever more demanding on-line society. Self-help tools that allow clients to interact with the firm and even perform parts of the legal process will be expected as standard going forwards.

The pressure on law firms to compete in this way and to provide an ever improving level of customer service will continue to propel the required level of automation. Automation will ultimately reduce costs which will create an even more competitive market. That will in turn drive the need for further automation and so the cycle continues.