Nicoleta Cherciu is legal counsel at UiPath.
In How Robotic Process Automation Empowers Today’s Legal Teams, and How Robotic Process Automation Powers Bulletproof Legal Compliance, we introduced the topic of automation for in-house legal departments and independent law firms. In this post, we look at the broader issues surrounding the digital transformation of the legal profession.
Industries of all shapes and sizes find themselves in a continuous state of digital disruption. Ubiquitous computing and software now reshape communication, consumption, travel, education, and especially work. Artificial intelligence (AI) will further speed up the impact of this ubiquity.
Legal professionals can either ease, or slow down, the technological transformation of their clients. They need to keep up with the fast pace of negotiating and concluding contracts. They have to provide fast, yet effective, legal advice that facilitates innovation. They have to rapidly adapt to the needs of their clients. And legal professionals need to do so while reducing costs: agency, transaction, monitoring, regulatory, and compliance1.
In short, legal teams, whether in-house or outside counsel, need to facilitate an ‘automation first’ mindset in both their, and their clients', organizations.
How can legal teams not only keep up, but help lead this transformation?
UiPath – an example of an automation first approach for legal services
Hiring ever-more legal professionals is not a scalable approach to meeting this challenge. An automation first mindset instead challenges leaders to think first: “how can I automate this?”
UiPath took this approach to better provide legal services for the world’s fastest growing enterprise software company.
We started with augmenting the skills of our legal department.
Legal professionals are not usually known for their software skills. So, we started with a new role for our team, a business analyst. IT departments are very familiar with this combined role of process analytics and IT development. These skills are required to successfully connect business needs with technical solution teams.
Our own legal counsels were trained as business analysts. They were asked to think differently about legal processes. They had a little help, of course, from the UiPath Academy Business Analyst course. The course helps students learn how to analyze processes for automation potential and also learn how to build their first Robot.
As owners of their own legal automation projects, our legal counsels could now apply their legal experience with the ability to understand, analyze, and train Robots. These Robots became their trusted digital colleagues.
The visual development environment of UiPath Studio enables non-technical staff to easily develop their own automations. It also helps them improve their own Robots. Finally, it also helps them successfully engage with in-house Robotic Process Automation (RPA) developers when more complex processes are ready to be automated.
Outsized results from the digital transformation of UiPath legal services
In less than one year, the UiPath in-house legal team and in-house developers created an entire department’s worth of robotic digital assistants. These Robots freed up valuable time.
The legal team could now focus on what they do best: providing complex legal advice and strategic legal thinking.
Here are a few examples of the Robots we’ve been able to build. We hope they stir your thinking about which legal processes you may want to tackle first for your own automations.
Export Control Robot:
- Reduces business risk and improves legal productivity.
- Automates the validation of new parties that you want to do business with against sanctioned parties’ lists from various government entities.
- Builds a personalized digest of regulatory changes.
- Automates monitoring and a daily digest of changes to European Union (EU) Parliament, European Commission, and United States (U.S.) legal and regulatory requirements databases related to the IT industry.
Conflict of Interest Robot:
- Automates conflict of interest disclosure and verification.
- Creates an internal, searchable database.
- Reduces the time needed to identify conflicts from weeks to instantly.
- Automates GDPR-related customer requests to review personal information stored by the company.
- Reduces the risk of significant penalties from overlooking user data in multiple databases.
- Automates the identification of agreements that require legal review.
- Accepts or rejects changes on standard templates and common clauses.
- Allows the Legal department to now focus on reviewing and negotiating more complex contracts.
Document Retrieval Robot:
- Automatically backs up legal documents, improves audit trails, and manages signature rights.
- Helps with reporting, ratifying signature rights, and migrating executed documents between repositories.
- Legal inquiry chatbot that responds to common, recurring legal inquiries over email, extracts intent from posed questions, and provides answers in real time, 24x7.
- Frees up legal counsels to focus on more complex questions and more strategic requests.
Legal teams: from automation laggards to automation leaders
Many customers still struggle to adopt automation in their legal departments and outside counsel. Our own experience shows us that legal transformation through automation is feasible and can be of strategic and differentiating value.
Automation can provide a clear path forward for organizations to embrace a new dynamic for legal success.
Deloitte estimates that by next year, law firms will face a “tipping point” for a new talent strategy. By 2025, "the quickening pace of technological developments, shifts in workforce demographics, and the need to offer clients more value for money, will force a profound transformation of the legal profession."
Now is the best time for the legal profession to take an automation first approach. With it, they can improve accuracy and productivity while increasing job satisfaction. By automating mundane tasks, legal professionals get back valuable time to be more creative and strategic. What organization wouldn't want that?
1Mark Fenwick, Wulf A. Kall, Erik P.M. Vermeulen, TILEC Discussion Paper, Legal Education in a Digital Age: Why “Coding for Lawyers” Matters (October 2018), page 11