Businesses in the UK have around 80-90 regulators they must adhere to and Brexit has left many feeling uncertain. Increasingly, businesses find themselves seeking legal advice on next steps and how to secure their future.
For lawyers, this can pose a great opportunity to share expertise and gain new business, but with this comes the challenge of the extra research and admin needed to carry out a heavier workload.
New business, while always welcome, means extra hours of unbillable tasks needed to set a new client up. Research and admin will nearly double a caseload of work. Recent research has found that lawyers spend on average 600 hours a year on admin alone, using a significant percentage of the workday with little ROI.
There are alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) available and the majority of law firms believe a transition to a non-hourly billing system is on the way. In the meantime, law firms can take steps to improve their current billing system.
Why lawyers need to be compliant
Compliance is non-negotiable. The cost of being found to be non-compliant can cause untold damage to a company’s finances and reputation. While costs may be covered by insurance, public perception can be harder to repair.
The most common mistakes made in legally binding documents are:
- Slow turnaround of documents
- Information security vulnerabilities
- Key information not being captured
Knowing this, how can lawyers maximise billable hours, remain compliant, and avoid damage to their reputations? Simple tech implementations offer an answer.
Software like automated document generation can reduce document creation time by 80 per cent, allowing lawyers to spend more time on high-touch work such as client relationship building and sharing expertise.
Document automation works like a template, with the legal professional inputting data in an “interview like” process, which then generates a document with consistency and all the correct legally binding information. Some software, including the system we have developed at HotDocs, integrates with the IT system already in place so there is no need for additional IT support to implement.
So, what benefits can the integration of automated documents have on a law practice?
Laws and regulations are notoriously fickle; any time a regulatory body meets, regulations are subject to change. Since the regulatory environment is so fast paced, it is difficult for experts to keep up to date with every single bill passed in the legal landscape.
Using automated document generation technology can stop lawyers from making mistakes. It gives professionals the ability to update clauses in a centralised location, which then appears in every new document going forward. This saves time and resources, whilst mitigating risk.
By having a centralised updated catalogue of regulations in place, senior members of staff can have peace of mind when delegating tasks to more junior members of staff.
For example, having automated documents allows senior lawyers at a bank’s legal department to create watertight paperwork that can be used by non-legal staff out in their network of branches. An assistant can then have confidence filling in a document because they know that an expert has kicked off the automated process.
Relieving the workforce of repetitive tasks
Any team can become exhausted by repetitive tasks like reviewing and redrafting important documents. This is when mistakes and errors occur. Automated document generation like ours has proofreading functionality, meaning fewer resources are needed to check and review information recorded.
Minimising human error
Mistakes happen, but by implementing technology to create key legal documents, the possibility of human error is greatly decreased. Additionally, there is no need to create multiple versions of a document, which can inadvertently save costs on things such as printing and time spent reviewing and updating.
Law is an industry known for being a little slower at embracing new procedure and technology. But with stretched workloads, it is essential for today’s practitioners to work smarter, not harder – especially if they want to increase billable hours and revenue.
What’s evident is that with the right platforms and software in place, lawyers can stay compliant, be freed from significant administrative burden, allowing them to do their job, which is to deliver expert knowledge and legal advice to their clients.
Gary Lessels is general manager of HotDocs, a global provider of document automation