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.”

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

Good Read: “Can Legal Tech Reduce Lawyer Burn Out?”

Author: Artificial Lawyer

Link to the article

The notion that legal tech can reduce burn out is a huge proposition. But a very interesting topic.

I recommend this article because this question is answered by seven current or former law firm employees, from former partners to firm innovation leaders. I always like to hear from the source. 🙂

Dig into this article for more on these topics:

  • “constant and unrelenting pressure to bill more hours”
  • “the real issue of burnout is a bigger question about culture”
  • “Legal tech can be a part of the solution but it only goes so far.”

“Legal tech” is not the panacea for lawyer burnout. However, I think all of us in the legal ecosystem want legal technology solutions to make work easier for attorneys. We want to enable attorneys to get more or work done in less time. We want to reduce and simplify repetitive and tedious work. Software solutions have a major role to play.

Read more on “Can Legal Tech Reduce Lawyer Burn Out?”

Maureen

A “Good Read” post is a brief pointer to an article worth a deeper reading.

We have FOMO in legal tech! 🦄

What is FOMO?

Fear Of Missing Out

Today’s legal tech headline:

“Litera secures further investment from Hg”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But we know that:

  • May 2019: Hg purchased Litera investment firm K1 Investment Management. At the time Hg Capital Trust stated that as part of the acquisition, it would lead an investment of $39M in Litera.
  • Litera has trebled in size, per CEO, Avaneesh Marwaha.
  • And from the same press release:
  • Litera is approaching more than 1,000 employees across 17 different countries
  • Litera also has gained over 10 times the number of users since Hg first invested, now serving over 15,000 customers
  • Since 2019, Litera has acquired twelve companies.

And there are 🦄 unicorns in legal tech!

November 2021: Everlaw raised a $202M Series D round at a valuation over $2B.

June 2021: Verbit raised $157 million in Series D funding at a valuation of over $1B.

April 2021: Clio raised a $110M Series E round at a valuation of $1.6B.

December 2020: Ironclad raised $100M in Series D funding at more than $950M valuation.

Ah, FOMO…

To quote investor Kjartan Rist on FOMO, “The fear of missing out on the next billion-dollar opportunity is one feeling that never really goes away.

FOMO is nothing new in Silicon Valley VC-land. But it’s new and exciting in the world of what is broadly referred to as “legal tech.” Legal tech has been known for slow adoption and conservative processes, including mainly using software which is deployed on-premises at the law firm or business entity. In many cases this changed with the pandemic. The overnight necessity to support attorneys and staff working from home catalyzed adoption of cloud-hosted software throughout legal.

My short summary of the phenomenon in legal tech:

☁️ Cloud scales = hyper growth potential

💉 Accelerated by the pandemic

⚖️ Legal (law firms, corporate legal) finally accepts Cloud/SaaS

💰 Capital wants in

🙌 Win / Win / Win

There’s more to this story. For example, FOMO leads to frothy valuations.

But for today…

🥳 Congratulations to the unicorns, the parties to M & A, the newly funded, and the rapidly growing companies in #legaltech! It’s an exciting time to be in legal tech.

-Maureen

Per the Data: Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal

Is remote work merely a short-term necessity or will it have legs when it is again safe to work in the law firm office? As we head into one full year of remote work, I set out to see if there were data which would substantiate the direction of remote work.

What I learned paints a compelling rationale for remote work continuing. For some people, it might be for only one or two days a week. But the preference for a hybrid work model is clear.

There are two supporting dynamics:

  1. The economics of remote work were positive in 2020. Law firms will likely make changes, for instance in leases, to capitalize on this going forward.
  2. Attorneys made a positive adjustment to working from home and would like to retain some of that flexibility in the future.

In this post, I highlight a few of the interesting data points which I found. You can view and download (no registration) my full slide deck, “Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal” here.

A key law firm financial metric is Profitability per Equity Partner. The results show that for Big Law and mid-sized law firms profitability grew significantly in the 12 months leading up to November of 2020. In part this was due to law firm rate increases established in December 2019 and to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), both on the income side.

Graph Profit per Equity Partner
Profit Per Equity Partner Growth 2019 and 2020

However, on the expense side, it is also due to law firms cutting overhead expenses in all but two categories, technology and Knowledge Management.

Graph Overhead Expense Growth
Overhead Expense Growth by Category 2109 and 2020

Both of the above charts are from a terrific resource, “2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market” by Thomson Reuters and Georgetown Law Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession. This report is chock full of data. I highly recommend reading it if you work in a law firm. And, as good attorneys say, “read the footnotes” for gems. You may also listen to the podcast, “Was the Pandemic a Tipping Point for Law Firms?” which is based on the report. Bob Ambrogi interviewed Jim Jones, Senior Fellow at Georgetown and Director of its Program on Trends in Law Practice. Mr. Jones is a contributor to the report. He adds interesting color to the report findings in this interview.

A funny thing happened while attorneys toiled from home. They appreciated the benefits. The greatest benefit to attorneys and staff is the time gained by not commuting. For time-keepers the extra hours per week can add up to several days per year of additional billable hours plus additional leisure time to boot.

Now 85% of attorneys want to work from home at least one day per week.

Image Remote Work
“Lawyers put in 20 extra work days when working from home,” Legal Cheek, Aishah Hussain, January 8, 2021

Finally, here is an infographic with a few of the more illustrative points regarding remote work in law firms. You may download the Remote Work infographic PDF here.

Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal infographic

How does this compare to your experience of working from home this past year? What work model would you like to see going forward?

-Maureen

Paperless Legal Pre-bill Approvals with the LINK App

Before we all moved to working from home, were your attorneys and paralegals approving pre-bills by marking up paper? And now? Are you scanning reams of paper? Printing and FedEx-ing?

In late 2018 we were contacted by the head of Knowledge Management of an AmLaw 100 law firm. They had a specific goal: to make approval of pre-bills paperless and easy to do on an iPad. They have a practice which has high monthly transactions. Some partners were approving several thousand pre-bills per month on paper. This was difficult enough when a partner was in the office. It was untenable if the partner had to travel. This firm had heard about our LINK app’s built-in annotation and integration with DMS. They wanted to know if we could help.

Marking up pre-bills is easy to do with LINK. Here is a common workflow:

  1. Accounting uploads the pre-bills to a folder in DMS.
  2. Attorney goes to that folder in DMS from the LINK app.
  3. Attorney annotates the pre-bills using LINK’s in-app annotation.
  4. Attorney saves the marked-up pre-bill to DMS from the LINK app.
  5. Accounting retrieves the marked-up pre-bills.

That’s all there is to it. In LINK you can mark-up a pre-bill with a pencil or a finger. Add a stamp or note. You can even capture your signature then place it on documents.

This law firm started approving pre-bills with LINK in 2019. Their partners are very pleased with the improved process. There is no going back to paper for them.

There are variations to the workflow. Instead of DMS the firm may upload the pre-bills to network file shares or OneDrive. Or, the pre-bills may be emailed to the attorney, marked up in LINK, and then emailed back. LINK can be used on a phone instead of a tablet.

You may watch a video showing two workflows, one using DMS and one using email, below.

in legal we are seeing that this pandemic presents an opportunity for certain productivity improvements. Not only in the case of Zoom, but usage of DocuSign has rocketed. “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

We would be happy to discuss your pre-bill workflow and how LINK could apply to it.

-Maureen

contact@mobilehelix.com +1 347-508-0967

LINK App: Paperless Legal Pre-bill Approval Workflows 8:54 from LINK App by Mobile Helix on Vimeo.

We Want to Help – Special LINK Offer

If our LINK app can help you to provide business continuity to your attorneys and staff in this unprecedented time, we want to get LINK in your hands.

We are extending this special offer:

  • Our free LINK app trial duration is now 90-days
    • Applies to trials which begin before August 31, 2020
  • You may add unlimited users
  • This will be a full production deployment including all of LINK’s security measures

LINK is best-suited for firms or departments of 30 users and up.

LINK’s server software is deployed on VMs on-prem, behind your firewall.

With LINK it’s easy and secure to work from tablets and smartphones. LINK is an encrypted, containerized mobile app, integrated with iManage, NetDocuments, email, Office 365, and the firm intranet. Lawyers and legal staff can review, annotate, compare, edit, and email documents with LINK.

We are happy to:

  • Tell you more about LINK
  • Show you a demo via Zoom
  • Describe the trial further

If I can help you, please email me at: maureen at mobilehelix dot com.

–Maureen, President & COO

Learn about what you can with LINK in this 2.5 minute video.

Statement on COVID-19 Business Continuity from Mobile Helix

At Mobile Helix, all of our employees have been working from home for several years. We are fully up and running and supporting our customers. Employees may exercise the flexibility which they may need to balance new work and home circumstances.

We have encouraged our LINK app customers to add as many users as needed. We are fortunate to have wonderful, loyal customers. We are happy to help them respond quickly to enable their attorneys and staff to work from home.

-Maureen Blando maureen at mobilehelix dotcom

We’re an official NetDocuments ISV Partner!

We’ve been a NetDocuments partner for years. Recently, with Leonard Johnson heading up their partner ecosystem, NetDocuments have formalized their NetDocuments ISV Partner Program. We have used their REST APIs to give NetDocuments users access to their documents and their email in the same encrypted container app, LINK. NetDocuments is committed to the platform approach wherein both Independent Software Vendors and NetDocuments customers can develop solutions for optimizing their workflows using the REST APIs.

It’s easy to review, compare, annotate, file, and email documents all within our LINK app. LINK also offers a managed integration with the Microsoft Office apps for editing on an iPad or smartphone.

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