Automation is fast becoming the standard when it comes to tools sought after and used by leading law firms in the pursuit of efficiency, competitiveness and, most importantly, profit maximisation.
This much was made clear by recent research conducted with the UK’s top 100 law firms. Without prompting, respondents nominated automation as likely to have far and away the biggest impact on the legal sector in the next few years.
With over two-thirds of the average fee-earners working day currently focused on non-billable work, firms need to find ways to free up their staff to be able to focus on billable hours as this no doubt drives growth and profit.
Through automation, firms can utilise software and technology to simplify tasks, reduce administration and complete more billable hours.
In no particular order, the main types of automation that firms believe make a difference are:
- Workflow automation
- Process automation
- Automated document/contract creation and review
- Big Data analytics
- Knowledge management
- Profitability analysis in real time
- CRM automation, e.g. relationship analysis
- Performance dashboards
- Automated case management
- Automated conflict checking
- Automated costing and billing
- Meta-automation i.e. joining automated elements together
Currently, firms feel that they are not as automated as they could be. However, the impetus towards its adoption is clearly growing. Which is even more reason to get on with automating now, to secure competitive advantage against those who still won’t automate.
Where to start with automation
As with any innovation, for all the notional benefits of automation, the costs of implementation, both in time and treasure, have to make sense.
Pragmatic introductions of proven automation technologies in the first instance will likely yield the most positive results in the short-term in terms of profitability. and provide a blueprint for more abstract applications in the future.
You’ll have seen or heard discussions about advanced automation, artificial intelligence, even robotics but in the first instance, firms should look to automate simple day to day tasks. This way you can introduce automation quickly and at a low relative cost. You can then establish a track-record of proven successes and build people’s confidence and appetite to introduce more.
Time recording as a starting point for automation
Time recording, costing, and billing are good places to start your automation journey.
Timekeeping has a big impact on a firm’s revenue. Clearly the more time that can be logged the more money you earn. However, the catch 22 here is that the more time spent collecting time, the more money you lose!
It therefore makes sense to automate as much as possible how time is collected and fed through to the billing system – that way less valuable time is wasted. It is ultimately ironic that many firms spend so much unbillable time, every month, on the effort to assemble time to be billed. Especially given that this is an area where automation technology is already available and proven.
Moreover, once automation is successfully handling some small, discrete tasks – things like running your monthly billing runs – you can start working out return on investment and demonstrate the value.
Remember that the impact of any small gain you make is multiplied by the number of times you do that task. Remember too to factor in the added value you can realise from having some of your team redeployed on higher value work. You could find that small inroads into enhancing efficiency and increasing productivity begin to accumulate into quite significant impacts.
Click here to learn more about Advanced’s time recording and capture software, Carpe Diem.