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Putting AI Into Practice: Transforming Legal Workflows

March 26, 2024

The focus on productivity in legal workflows has never been higher. Lawyers find themselves handling more cases and billing more hours than ever before. The pressure to keep up with this demand extends not only to law firms but also to in-house legal departments, and across the public sector.  

Our recently released "24 Voices for 2024: Trends in AI & Automation" report explores three main areas of discussion: The rise of AI in legal, putting AI into practice, and AI’s impact on professionals. Our previous blog in this series covered the first area, "The Rise of AI in Legal." This blog takes a deeper dive into the second area, “Putting AI Into Practice,” and provides valuable insight into how legal teams can use AI responsibly to increase efficiency and deliver elevated services.    

Intelligent Automation Will Increasingly Drive Legal Workflows

To meet heightened productivity demands, legal professionals are turning to next-generation automation technologies. When leveraged strategically, these tools have the potential to optimize workflows, automate repetitive tasks, and enable teams to deliver greater strategic value. In fact, according to a recent survey by PwC, businesses can save between 30%-40% of the hours typically spent on manually inputting, mining, and extracting information from documents by elevating automation to the next level with the help of AI.

“There’s the internal piece which is around leveraging AI and core technologies to automate business processes and systems and insights, and some organizations are developing external-facing products that can be great self-serve tools. AI-powered tools will supercharge automation, and there’s no question it will become a differentiator.” — Terri Mottershead, Executive Director at the Centre for Legal Innovation

Successfully integrating technological capabilities that align with specific needs is crucial for law firms and legal teams. However, determining which technologies will have the most significant impact can be challenging. Simply adopting technology for its own sake may not enhance productivity or client satisfaction. It's essential to discern where automation can genuinely revolutionize efficiency without sacrificing the human touch.

To fully realize the benefits of new technologies, map out the business processes and identify the workflows you are trying to address, so you can select the most suitable technology to meet those needs.  

AI Integrations Will Significantly Increase Adoption

Thinking about the future of AI, it’s going to be much more about how it gets integrated into workflows and actually becomes less visible. A task like profiling a document is very valuable, but now there are ways to automate it. Imagine having, for instance, broad scale classification of all your content so that you really have an understanding of what’s in your repository and having that happen automatically as part of the workflow. That’s incredibly valuable. And over time, we’ll get away from people thinking about AI as a chatbot. It will be built into the interfaces you already interact with, and the AI will facilitate a number of things that you’re already doing.  

By embedding AI enhancements natively into the tools legal professionals already use daily, such as Microsoft 365, integrations make adoption easier while removing productivity bottlenecks. Integrating AI tools into existing legal software and systems allows lawyers to work within their familiar environments, minimizing disruptions and reducing the learning curve to make AI tools more accessible and user-friendly.

“Technologies embedding these types of AI capabilities within their platforms could encourage quicker adoption throughout the legal industry. — Jeroen Plink, Chief Operations Officer at Legaltech Hub

The easiest way to benefit from AI is to work with tech partners that have built-in AI tools that are already integrated. Established vendors that offer built-in AI capabilities will also provide the access controls and ethical walls necessary to ensure prior work product is leveraged securely and responsibly.

AI is Hastening the Shift Away from Legacy Systems

Organizations have recognized the benefits of the cloud over on-premises systems in terms of cost, agility, resiliency, and capabilities of cloud-first strategies. AI is further encouraging a shift because it relies on the capabilities of the cloud.

An organization’s data, both structured and unstructured, serves as the fuel for powering any generative AI technology used in legal work. The more data you can access as an organization, the better positioned you are for success when introducing AI to legal tech. For this reason, AI workloads demand an infrastructure that can process the appropriate amounts of data at speed. And for legal organizations, all this must be done in a way that is highly secure and maintains appropriate confidentiality, access controls, and ethical walls.

“On-premises technologies are quickly reaching their end of life, in part because they lack the cloud platform necessary to process the data and take advantage of these innovative capabilities. This is a great time to review your technology footprint and look for a differentiator: technology that will genuinely make the lives of lawyers easier, enabling them to deliver the best service to clients.” —Michael Barrett, Head of Technology and Innovation at Hicksons Lawyers

Gaining buy-in from decision-makers, carefully evaluating cloud providers, and promoting adoption across the organization are critical steps for a successful transition to a cloud-first strategy. By embracing the cloud and integrating AI technologies, legal professionals can streamline workflows, increase productivity, and deliver greater value to their clients in today's rapidly evolving legal landscape.

Embracing AI to Supercharge Automated Legal Workflows

The emergence of new automation technologies powered by AI is transforming the legal landscape in an unprecedented manner. Forward-thinking legal teams and firms that take the time to strategize to create a roadmap for adoption and work with trusted vendors have an opportunity to establish a competitive advantage and deliver exponential value.

At NetDocuments, we’re excited about building solutions that empower our customers with the combined power of AI and automation. The successful firms of the future are the ones that are embracing these changes today.

Access the full 24 Voices for 2024 report to discover what 24 leading voices in legal are saying and what more you should know about trends in AI and automation:

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