Contracts need to be reviewed. Messages to customers approved. Signatures need to be gathered. At the end of the day, all of these documents need to be archived in a compliant manner. These small tasks happen every day in an enterprise organization’s legal department and can be the leading cause of bloating overhead.
These small tasks quickly add up, sometimes so much so that they divert the department’s daily focus away from the organization’s overarching goals. Suddenly, priority projects become crisis projects because not enough of the department’s resources are immediately available.
Automation can be a solution. This is a role that’s less seen within legal but can be just as useful with the same significant results seen in areas like HR and Finance, where it’s already shown to play vital roles.
But why automate what’s already simple to do manually?
Bloating overhead is a common cause of slow growth, and the use of manual processes could be what’s dragging down your profitability. Streamlining processes with automation saves a great deal of time, and therefore labor hours. Instead of chasing signatures or tracking down who has a form they need, your people can be working on more productive tasks—meaningful work that contributes to growth, and not overhead.
Digital documentation opens the door for so many of a legal department’s more mundane responsibilities to be effectively automated. The easiest scenario to imagine is eliminating the labor hours spent filing and retrieving documents. Whether physical or digital, it’s redundant work that can be easily left to automation and robust document management.
Most automation protocols for filing newly entered documents can be as simple or advanced as you want, but the more complex the rules behind a protocol are, the less there’s room for human error to play a role.
Human error when it comes to documentation costs organizations tens of thousands of dollars every year at best. Major compliance issues that are systematic are known to cost millions. Automation effectively reduces those errors that are typically born from the redundancies and assumptions made when managing legal documentation.
How do you automate legal work?
Automation can serve a role in making your document filing processes nearly hands-free. Optical character recognition is a common component of automated documentation systems. It identifies data within a document, physical or digital, and then uses that information to automatically route a file to the appropriate location within your document management system, based on the set of rules you create.
Templates for standard forms allow the software to recognize what kind of form it is and identify the content in selected fields of the document. The document management system can then use that recorded metadata to file those documents in the right place, in accordance with how the company wants it filed. With just some preplanning and setup, going paperless is just a matter of scanning in documents and letting the software do the complicated work for you. Time is a resource that should always be coveted by an efficient legal organization—and it’s one that software can help you gain.
Good legal automation can at a minimum, help you gather signatures, file paperwork, send reminders of tasks to people, and send and receive messages securely. Great legal automation can help you further by utilizing workflows built around rules to perform complicated, yet routine tasks involving digital documents. That way you don’t even have to think about those tasks. You just get notified when they’re done.