What does the future of law look like? And more importantly, what does it mean for law firms? With artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and other emerging technologies threatening to disrupt legal services again, law firm leaders need to find new ways to keep their organizations ahead of the trend. That’s why workflow management is so important.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through 5 workflow changes that we think every law firm needs to make if they want to thrive in the digital age.
1. AI: How It’ll Change Your Firm
Artificial intelligence is a system designed to think like humans and solve problems like humans — but millions of times faster. It’s already had a huge impact on the legal industry, especially regarding discovery.
Acquiring AI-like legal operation software which is user-friendly and helps the law firm achieve strategic organizational change. And there are other ways AI will disrupt legal services, too — from document discovery to contract review to contract automation.
2. Routine Tasks Should Be Automated
As you move more of your workflows to the digital realm, you’ll want to find ways to automate the routine tasks that take up so much of your time. AI and machine learning can help. For example, you can use AI tools to automatically extract data from documents, organize and label it, and add it to your document management system.
3. Documents Are the First Step to Managing Workflow
As we mentioned above, documents are the foundation of workflow management. If you don’t have a clear idea of what documents you need to complete a task, you won’t be able to manage your workflow effectively. That’s why it’s important to use collaboration tools that support a document-first approach.
It means that instead of creating a workflow and then creating a document to represent it, you create a single document representing the workflow itself. This approach makes it easier for your team members to collaborate on a single document — and for you to track changes and keep everyone on the same page.
3. You Need Real-Time Visibility of Your Firm
Lawyers are notorious for being risk-averse — and for a good reason. After all, your clients’ livelihoods often depend on your advice. The best way to mitigate risk is to have clear visibility into what’s happening in your firm — from the number of billable hours to the status of your projects. You’re behind the times if you manage your workflow with a tool that doesn’t offer real-time visibility.
Modern workflow management tools will allow you to create visual representations of your workflow and see everything that’s happening in your firm — right down to the number of hours your associates are billing.
4. You Should Be Using Chat Ops
The next step in managing workflow for many firms is adding a bot to their workflow. More and more firms have added a bot to their workflow — we call this “chat ops.” This is where a bot can interact with your team members and handle basic productivity tasks, like reminding team members to follow up on a project or letting them know when a task gets completed.
Chatbots are particularly effective when managing the administrative side of your business — the stuff that doesn’t require legal expertise, like billing and collections. You can also use bots to help improve your workflow.
For example, you can program a bot to search your document management system for a particular document type and then trigger an action, like creating a task in a project management tool.
5. Mergers and Acquisitions Are Key for Growth
As you look to scale your law firm, mergers and acquisitions are an important strategy. But they present their challenges — particularly when it comes to workflow. A new workflow management platform can help you integrate new teams more quickly and easily. You can also use it to bring new clients into your firm, which will help you scale even more quickly.
And regardless of whether you’re acquiring another firm or bringing in new clients, you need to ensure that your IT and security practices are up-to-date. New technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have huge potential for the legal industry.
Law firms are facing another period of disruption. And once again, it’s up to law firm leaders to stay ahead of the trend and adapt to the new digital landscape. That starts with the changes we’ve outlined in this post: AI and machine learning, routine tasks, documents, real-time visibility, chat ops, mergers and acquisitions, and more. These changes will make it easier for your team members to collaborate, dramatically increase your firm’s productivity, and put you on the growth path.