What is Workflow Automation in Legal? A High School Internship

This fall I have been fortunate to mentor an internship with Blake and Joaquin, two juniors at Design Tech High School, “DTech,” in San Mateo, California. The subject of this internship was Workflow Automation in Legal. Blake and Joaquin did the research, wrote the copy, and created the graphics. They did an outstanding job.

Take a look. Do you now know what Workflow Automation in Legal is?

What is Workflow Automation?

Workflow Automation is the use of process improvement and software to increase productivity and efficiency.

What is Workflow Automation in Legal?

Workflow automation in legal is the use of software to automate legal processes,

“Workflow Automation in legal is the automation and optimization of the legal team’s workflows to maximize efficiency, eliminate errors, and provide more value to the law firm or legal department.”

Jake Link, bryter

What are Examples of Workflow Automation in Legal?

  • Client Billing
  • Scheduling Appointments
  • Client Intake
  • NDA Generators
  • Employment Contract Generators

What Companies Provide Solutions for Workflow Automation in Legal?

  • ActionStep – cloud-based, legal practice management and billing and accounting software
  • Centerbase – cloud-based, legal accounting, billing, and practice management software
  • Clio – cloud-based, legal practice management and billing software
  • Rocket Matter – cloud-based, legal practice management and billing software
  • Zapier – used to connect different applications and integrate their workflow into a single application
  • BRYTER – development platform for legal, procurement, and compliance to automate workflows, build applications, and digitize contracting
  • Matter Suite – cloud-based legal practice management software
  • Mobile Helix – encrypted mobile app for document workflows for lawyers

Why is it Important for Legal Teams to Engage in Workflow Automation? 

Legal teams should engage in workflow automation because of the major impact it can bring to a firm, especially when it frees up the lawyers to bill more hours with clients. In addition, with workflow automation, lawyers and other employees can engage in higher level work which leads to greater job satisfaction and less stress.

Is Workflow Automation a Good or Bad Thing? 

It’s definitely a good thing as it enhances the efficiency of a firm to allow for increased profits.

Blake and Joaquin made a one minute video about the internship.

Authors: Blake and Joaquin

If you like this post, please let us know at contact at mobilehelix.com.

-Maureen


Resources

“Legal Workflow Automation Explained: Examples, Benefits, and Solutions”. Bryter. Jake Link. April 13, 2022. https://bryter.com/blog/legal-workflow-automation-transforms-legal-departments/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic   

  1. “Workflow Automation in legal is the automation and optimization of the legal team’s workflows to maximize efficiency, eliminate errors, and provide more value to the law firm or legal department.”
  2. Its benefits are increasing time and productivity for the workers that normally have to deal with manual paperwork/data processes. Examples of workflow automation tools are legal intake tools, automatic NDA generators, and data breach reporting, and client billing. 

“Everything You Need to Know About Legal Workflow Automation and Why You Should Have It”. Centerbase. Chelsea Huss. Apr 5, 2022. https://centerbase.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-legal-workflow-automation-and-why-you-should-have-it/   

  1. Basic overview of workflow automation along with a list of legal practice management software that includes workflow.
  2. “Workflow itself is defined as the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.”

“Why Legal Workflow Automation is Important to Law Firm Success”. Mattersuite. July 27, 2021 https://www. mattersuite.com/blog/why-workflow-automation-important-to-law-firm-success

  1. Goes more into the ROI and the positive worth it brings to a firm, especially down the line in use of automation. Includes useful graphics that may be used for inspiration for future graphics or to source a quote from Mattersuite.
  2. “Legal automation is designed to streamline the law practice operations smoothly. Automating document management to gaining more clients, everything can be achieved with legal automation.”

Your Network Has Been Locked: What I Learned at ILTACON 2022

It was wonderful to meet with you all! Last week was the first fully in-person annual educational conference of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) since 2019. ILTACON is truly an event of peer-to-peer sharing. Many of the members have relationships dating back decades. Having an in-person event again was fantastic.

Security was one of the most in-demand topics. There were sessions on phishing, ransomware, breaches, and solutions. Here are three takeaways from sessions which I attended on what to do when a breach occurs. Note: I am not a cybersecurity expert. These are commonsense points which anyone can learn from.

Darkside Ransomware Email – Source: Acronis
  1. First Call

At 10 PM on Saturday night, Asher in Support gets a call from an attorney who says, “I’m looking at a screen which says, ‘Your network has been locked!'” Asher was educated to escalate any such messages immediately. Let’s assume that this message gets to the CIO within minutes.

Who does the CIO call first?

  • Is it a contracted or pre-vetted cybersecurity services provider?
  • Is it the cybersecurity insurance carrier?

In a session which included both a panelist from a top cybersecurity services provider and a panelist from a major cybersecurity insurance carrier, each argued that they should be the first call. Each may have distinct objectives.

The cybersecurity insurance carrier will immediately send in their SWAT team. This expertise may be quite welcome at the law firm. A good carrier will bring great expertise to bear. At the same time, law firms report that when the insurance carrier team arrives, they lose control of the process. The firm IT team may be sidelined, by contract. The insurance company may have as its top priority forensics. One of their objectives is to discover if the law firm were out of compliance with the policy.

The cybersecurity services company will also send in their SWAT team and bring great expertise and experience to bear. If the firm has vetted the services company their objectives should be aligned with the law firm’s.

Objectives include stopping exfiltration of firm data and business continuity. Law firms will want to safely get back to business-as-usual as quickly as possible.

2. Breach Counsel

One of the first things that the cybersecurity insurance carrier will do is to get their breach counsel engaged in the process so that communications are privileged. Law firms are uniquely positioned to get their own attorneys involved. Whether it is the insurance carrier’s attorney or a firm attorney, involve an attorney on all communications immediately. There will be public communications following the breach and perhaps legal action. Need I say more?

3. CIO Fiat to Shut Down Systems

When there is a breach, time is of the essence. Data may still be exfiltrating. While no law firm wants to do so, the best action may be to shut down all systems immediately. The moment when the firm’s data is flowing out to the hackers is not a good time to educate and negotiate with the firm’s executive team regarding shutting down systems. The CIO should have clear authority in advance to shut down systems.

Bonus: Have a Plan

Your firm is a target. Services, like Dark Utilities, make it easy for hackers to to set up a command center (C2) for malicious operations. Prices for C2-as-a-Service start at EUR 9.99. Easy, inexpensive tools mean that firms of any size are a target for “drive-by” attacks.

Even while your full incident recovery program is in development, it’s time well-spent to have a plan for the three points above in order to respond quickly.

One of the benefits of ILTACON is that we learn what has worked for other law firms in real world settings. Each firm should assess their own response plan.

See you in Orlando at #ILTACON23!

-Maureen

The Modern Lawyer Report from Above the Law and Litera

How Technology, Mobile Devices, and AI Are Shaping the Legal Industry in 2022

In February of 2022, Above the Law interviewed 500 attorneys on their views on technology, mobile devices, artificial intelligence (AI), and more. Of those 500, Associates made up 32%, Partners were 26%, and in-house counsel were over 12%. Above the Law and Litera have published their findings in The Modern Lawyer Report.

Over 58% over these lawyers consider themselves to be slightly ahead of the curve or a trendsetter in terms of use of technology. The lawyers who agreed to participate in this technology survey appear to be more tech-savvy than the general lawyer population.

Above the Law / Litera

Mobile Device Usage

Roughly 57% of attorneys reported that they can do “many things” or “everything” on mobile devices. From our vantage point this seems high, but consider the point above, that the majority of the attorneys who responded self-report that they are ahead of the curve in using technology. From our view of law firms, the third option, “I can follow email on mobile but that’s about it,” is the the common state of the art in law firms today.

Above the Law / Litera

Document review and approval is certainly the greatest need which attorneys and legal professionals have on mobile devices. Our clients tell us that the ability to review, annotate, compare, sign, and email documents in order to have complete workflows is their goal.

Above the Law / Litera

What is delaying mobile device adoption?

The report cities, “One partner stated, “My vision is too poor to work on such small screens,” while an in-house respondent noted that “security risks preclude the ethical use of mobile for most legal tasks.”

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence or AI is a somewhat amorphous term, granted. Over 60% of these advanced technology users consider AI to be valuable to business success in legal services.

Above the Law / Litera

One of the conclusions of The Modern Lawyer Report is that, especially with respect to mobile devices and artificial intelligence, lawyers are not taking advantage of technology’s full capabilities. There is plenty of opportunity for them to adopt these technologies further.

Update: Here is a link to register and download the report from Litera.

If you have questions or comments, I’d like to hear from you. Write to: contact at mobilehelix dot com

-Maureen

Maureen Blando is the President and COO of Mobile Helix, the makers of the LINK encrypted app for lawyers. LINK provides simple workflows for Document Management and Email in a single, secure app. Note: the LINK App offers font sizes up to XXL. (See above. for relevance.)

What IS the State of Diversity in Law Firms?

February is Black History Month. It’s a good time to look at Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in our own spheres, to take stock of how we are doing today. The common knowledge is that diversity is moving slowly at most law firms. But is there any data, particularly any granular data, over time?

Enter the NALP “2021 Diversity in U.S. Law Firms” report by the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP). I highly recommend this report for its detailed, annual data on diversity in U.S. law firms. The report is a free PDF download.

Source: NALP 2021 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms

As you can see from the graph above, the growth in Black Partners has been modest. The percentage of Black Partners is 2021 is 2.22%, up from 1.7% in 2009. The NALP Diversity report shows data both for “People of Color” as well as for Black, Asian, and Latinx people. The granular view is essential as the growth of Black partners lags the growth of “People of Color.” The reality of these figures speaks for itself.

Source: NALP 2021 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms

While the overall growth in diversity of Associates is improving, the growth for Black Associates is slow. From 4.66% in 2009 to 5.22% in 2021, with an apparent dip from 2011 to 2016, the percentage of Black Associates is on the slow rise again.

Below is the table from the NALP table with the detail on demographics in U.S. law firms.

Source: NALP 2021 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms

I have barely scratched the surface of the rich data which the NALP report provides on diversity in U.S. law firms, including women, LGBTQ lawyers, and veterans by state and by size of law firm. My objective was to crystalize for myself what the current state of diversity for Black lawyers in U.S. law firms is today and the trend lines.

You can find the report here: National Association for Law Placement “2021 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms.”

-Maureen

Don’t Miss: Thomson Reuters 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market

It was this time last year when began to learn how profitable law firms had been in the first year of the pandemic. That profitability cast a completely different light on the historical law firm pressure to work long hours in the office.

Therefore, I looked forward to this year’s Thomson Reuters report. There are many terrific charts in the report. Below I’ll highlight three charts, mainly to encourage you to read the entire report. You can find the report here.

Profit Per Equity Partner Growth

This could be called “The Money Chart” in the legal market, growth in Profit Per Equity Partner (PPEP). Growth in 2021 was quite healthy, even compared to the robust growth in 2020. Mid-sized firms lead with 22.4% rolling 12-month growth.

Lawyer Turnover Analysis

The strong demand in legal services lead to the high turnover rate, especially amongst associates. The associate turnover rate for all firms reached 23.2% across all firms. For Am Law 100 firms the turnover rate hit 23.7%. See the report for a chart which breaks this out by firm size.

Associate Compensation Growth

For Big Law firms “facing the retention crisis,” there was nowhere to go but up. Associate compensation rose by over 15% in the Am Law 100.

There is so much more in this report, including:

  • Lawyer head count growth
  • Hours worked per lawyer
  • Expense growth and overhead detail (recruiting, staff compensation, KM, and technology lead)
  • Demand growth by practice

The report navigates “managing the way back” and lists specific, actionable recommendations. A new, essential approach for law firms: “flexibility.”

I encourage you to download the “Thomson Reuters Institute and Georgetown University Law Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession: 2022 State of the Legal Market Report.

In case you are wondering, I am not associated with either entity. I like data and thought that many of you would find this data interesting, too.

-Maureen

Good Read: “Virtual law firm FisherBroyles gets real”

By Jenna Greene in Reuters

Link to article

FisherBroyles is a 283 attorneys law firm whose attorneys and staff are “distributed” or remote, a model which is increasingly attractive to attorneys. In their model, attorneys take home 80% of what they bill. In traditional law firms, the take home is often closer to 33%. In 2021, FisherBroyles top-paid attorney took home $6,742,540.

Managing partner, Michael Pierson, says that their hourly rates are often two-thirds what a traditional law firm would charge as there is no real estate cost.

It’s definitely working for the firm. In 2021, FisherBroyers revenue was up 30% to $136 versus $105 million in 2020.

Read more at the link, including about two of FisherBroyles major engagements in 2021.

-Maureen