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What is Legal Automation And Why For In-house Legal Teams?

Legal automation is the practice of taking manual processes and automating them. The definition is as simple as it sounds and often involves legal teams engaging with technology. We say often because legal teams don’t always need technology to streamline processes, but when we talk about automation, a big part of it is finding the right digital tools to take what is paper-based and make it more digital and streamlined.

But what is really driving Legal Automation?

The need for legal automation has always been around, however, certain drivers have really pushed the need for it today. The 3 most pertinent ones include: 

1. Constant pressure for cost reduction and resource maximization 
We see this a lot with our clients where part of their actual corporate strategy is to engage in cost-cutting. And often the consequences of this are passed onto the legal team who are made to take on more deals and more strategic work year on year but with stagnation or reduction in headcount. We constantly hear this term of “Do More, With Less” within the legal industry but how do we do this with the same number of lawyers and the same size of the legal team who are already at maximum capacity? This is where automation comes in.

2. The pressure to become more data-driven/transparent around access to data
In today’s world, legal teams are becoming increasingly conscious about the need to report on their team’s activities. This is because the Board, CEO, or Chief Legal Officer now view the legal team as a strategic pillar rather than just a support function and therefore require information on “How many hours were spent on X task?,” “How many requests did we get from this side of the business?” and “How long does it take to complete these against SLAs?.” However, the beauty of automation isn’t just to automate these processes but to also create digital touchpoints that actually capture that information in the first place, in order to move it forward to the following stage. 

3. The need to enhance experience back to the business
One of the qualities that is often overlooked is “How do we better improve the experience of our internal clients when they come and engage us for legal services?.” Manual requests and manual processes often end up in bottlenecks and result in long turnaround times for business users. This is because the process is largely inconsistent and run differently by different people. So, when you look at automation, you’re taking the best practice, carefully designed process and operationalizing and scaling it across the business so that end-users experience 24/7 access to digital tools in the best, most streamlined way to get to the result that they want. Not only is this beneficial for business users but it allows lawyers to actually spend their time on more high-value tasks because they’re not dealing with an NDA on the side. 

In today’s world, legal automation is a critical concept. Legal teams aren’t tossing up whether they should automate or not because these key drivers have made it imperative. Instead, the focus is on assessing what needs to be automated and what the right digital tools are for their team or organization.

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