How to begin your in-house legal automation journey

Jan 21, 2023

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Do you ever wonder if there’s a way to take care of some of your legal tasks so you have time for higher-value and more strategic work — the type of work you moved in-house to do?

There’s a huge potential to reduce legal waste with automation — in fact, Gartner suggests that by 2024 legal departments will have automated 50 percent of their legal work. Advances in natural language processing and machine learning are also delivering new ways of handling critical tasks.

This article takes a look at what automation is, how it benefits your in-house legal department (and the wider business), and how to start your journey to being more productive!

Curious about where to start with automation? Sign up for the Connected Legal Certification — it’s free and for all in-house legal professionals.
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What is legal automation?

Automation refers to the use of legal technology, such as a legal workspace, to manage legal work that involves manual processes, is repetitive, and is of high volume and low value.

It reduces legal waste, enables legal teams to be more productive, and contributes to high-performing legal operations.

What are the different types of automation?

  1. Workflows — trends in your legal workflow where tasks require the same workflow each time, such as requests for new sales agreements.
  2. Approval processes — where the same tasks require approval from the same people, for example, a specific type of contract, legal tech can digitize and automate this process.
  3. Document drafting — automate the creation of routine documents such as NDAs.
  4. Reminders and notifications — provide updates in real-time and delivers reminders for tasks, including approaching deadlines and approval prompts to team members and the wider business.

“Think of automation as a helpful friend! By automating document creation and workflows, you gain the reward of more time — time you can spend on more engaging legal work.”

Shaun Plant — Chief Legal Evangelist, LawVu

How does automation benefit the in-house legal department?

There are six key benefits of automation in the in-house legal environment. It:

  • reduces the time and effort required from legal, while achieving the same outcome;
  • saves the business money, as legal is spending less time on low-value tasks, freeing up time to work on higher-value, more strategic work;
  • reduces manual errors;
  • eliminates stress around trying to remember deadlines;
  • empowers the wider business to complete some legal tasks, such as creating simple contracts like NDAs; and
  • enables the business to scale and grow, avoiding legal becoming a bottleneck for growth.

How to start your automation journey

To begin, list legal tasks that your department and the business are doing daily which are repeatable and involve low-skill processes.

Use your instinct — you’ll likely be able to identify those tasks which you consider to be an inefficient use of your time, or that could easily be automated. An added bonus is that eliminating some of these tasks will make your days more fulfilling and rewarding!

Low-hanging fruit, such as reminders for key contract dates, due dates for tasks, and to-dos, is a great place to start.

Then add to your list those tasks where you need consistency in deliverables, and the creation of high-volume, low-risk documents such as NDAs and standard terms. Also, look at how you manage matters — is it possible to automate parts of the process, such as configuring task lists by matter type?

Automating your intake process is also a great way to gain back valuable time, and can include the ability to triage, prioritize, and assign tasks to the right people, at the right time.

Learn more about automating your legal work with the Connection Legal Certification, and find out even more ways to reduce legal waste so you can work more productively!