In recent years, the legal research services have significantly simplified the work of specialists. At the same time, a large number of legal cases and tasks and, as a result, an increasing amount of processed information consume an increasing significant of the productivity of each lawyer and legal department as a whole. The solution to this problem may lie in the automation of legal works to speed up provision of legal services.
Law firms around the world have been using software to solve many various legal matters. However, it is important to note that this is not a complete replacement of a lawyer; on the contrary, such software involves the joint work of a lawyer and a computer.
For many years, IT specialists have been assuming that boring and monotonous work, for example, work on the conveyor should be computerised to replace people with computer software and robots.
However, for legal professions the core importance is not only the quality and speed of performance of a specific function, but also the personality of the specialist, his professionalism along with having certain skills and abilities. In particular, activities as advising clients, drawing up legal analytical reports, negotiating and participating in court hearings are, to the disappointment of IT specialists, still unattainable for computer software and robots.
Lawyers spend a significant amount of time on “non-intellectual” work, which obstructs the work of any legal department and makes it less effective. Every day lawyers have to face a large amount of paperwork they cannot avoid: sorting out documents, putting data into tables and reports, collecting information about new cases and changing the status of the current ones. Data transfer within one department is usually very inconvenient: lawyers have to exchange paper documents and folders, which is not only unreliable, but takes time as well.
In such conditions, a significant part of work can be automated. Impressive achievements in the IT sphere and their use in law prove it.
Before making a decision on automation of work of a legal department, it is necessary to scrutinise what kinds of activities of lawyers really need to be automated and may become more effective.
The main issue automation resolves is the exclusion of routine and uninteresting operations from the work of the legal department (for example, searching and monitoring legal cases in manual calendars, forming template documents, preparing statistical reports by “manual” data processing).
According to Pravo.ru, the most important functions of IT software for lawyers are:
–contract management and tracking (88.3%),
–litigation management (86.5%) and document management (79.5%),
–counterparty checking (77.3%) and creation of own templates (77.1%).
Automation may be useful for a company, first of all, if the number of employees is significant. In such departments, it is hard to arrange team working; there are problems with communication and the transfer / exchange of documents.
If the company is an active participant in litigation, it takes a lot of time and effort to preparation for court hearings, participation in them, inform clients about the progress of the cases and preparing reports for management. Drafting and approval of a large number of contracts, preparation of regulated reports, management of legal cases, all this can be simplified and speeded up with the help of automation.
IT software with a various range of functions, if targeted for automation of lawyer’s work, can help solve the following matters:
–Reduction of labour costs for information processing.
–Searching for new planning and control tools.
–Creation of a unified base of pre-trial disputes and lawsuits.
–Evaluation of the performance of employees.
– Unification of business cases and their solutions with an opportunity of using all the knowledge by the employees of the legal department.
Advantages and shortcomings of automation
As any system, automation has its own advantages and shortcomings.
Speaking of “advantages”, it must be said first that automation of the work of a legal department is intended to increase its productivity and cut down a significant part of many problems.
Firstly, the automation software targeted for collection, systematisation and storage of information excludes the risk of missing trials and losing documents. Any information about an incoming document or an arranged trial is followed with the reaction of a specialist. Having this software gives a real opportunity to figure out problem counterparts by using appropriate statistic data.
Secondly, with all incoming information stored in one place (electronic document exchange) it is easier to approve documents by management and exchange them within the department.
Thirdly, it becomes possible to monitor government agencies’ checks (the fulfillment of their instructions) along with keeping records of permits (for example, some companies have licences, and you have to keep in mind when they expire, otherwise work may be stopped).
It should be specially noted that having a single knowledge base with solutions for similar legal issues greatly facilitates their search.
Unification of the process of work of lawyers and exclusion of automated operations from their work allows lawyers to focus on complex tasks and highly intellectual work, for example, the formation of positions on the case, drafting the algorithms for responding to claims of counterparties and acts of state authorities, risk ranking, and the development of measures to minimise them.
All this contributes to building the capacity of the legal service and accumulating valuable experience.
For those clients of law firms using special IT-programs for automation, it is a «win-win» situation too. They are being promptly, sometimes even automatically, informed of current trials and the results of court hearings.
The shortcoming of using the IT software targeted for qualified automation of work of legal department is expensive. The cost of this software for one workplace is in average of more than 45000 rubles.
Besides, it is a hard choice the heads of departments have to make: what software to choose to meet the interests and demands of the company or department best. Choosing the wrong one may lead to the failure of individual goals.
With the introduction of quality automation systems in any legal department, it would result in a positive effect.
In the legal department of one of the companies after the introduction of an IT program, the managers have noticed the efficiency of the department’s work has increased by 40%. With an increase in the volume of business in this company approximately by 1.5 times, the number of employees of the department remained the same.
Examples of successful technical solutions
In Russia, there are several successful and very common programs that automate the work of a legal department: Yurayt, SUDiDelo, Aflatum, LawMatic, Jeffit.
The law information portal “Pravo.ru” has the systems that offer ready-made solutions for automating the work of legal departments and have been used by lawyers for a long time – it is Casebook, which is an electronic library of litigation practice, and Caselook, which is a universal tool not only for searching but analysis of litigation practice as well. Recently, a new system of accounting and case management Casepro has been launched.
According to the developers, the use of these systems will allow the conducting of all the judicial and other matters of the company in one interface. Also the creating and tracking of the events of the case, adding participants and documentation, assigning tasks and people in charge, monitoring their implementation along with maintaining a knowledge base to prepare legal opinions.
The tools to improve the efficiency of a legal department are becoming more technological and innovative. The modern way of managing the legal department is IT software. This IT software allows the management to increase the transparency of the work of subordinates, remove the negative impact of the human factor and better ensure the legal protection of the business. For lawyers, such programs reduce their time costs and free up their time for solving non-standard, creative tasks.
However, despite all the good aspects of automation, it should not be forgotten that it is not a “silver bullet” and cannot solve all the tasks faced by the legal department with the help of two or three buttons. These programs will never replace the quality work of specialists, but they take care of their effectiveness and increase the effectiveness of litigation and legal work.