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What is Legal Automation?

Legal Automation is one of the most talked about tech topics... but what exactly is it?

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What is Legal Automation?

Legal Automation is a category of technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, manage and measure legal tasks. 

As legal functions wake up to the fact that they have fallen behind their functional peers in the adoption of technology, they are anxious to catch up. But the tide is turning, legal functions will increase their expenditure 252% over the next two years – all be it from a low base.

The Last Enterprise White Space

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Excitement about technology lead Legal transformation is coupled with confusion created by limited experience navigating a vendor eco-system, and magnified by a proliferation of vendors promising sizzle with limited steak.

General Counsels who make a poor decisions here will hobble their function for years to come.  Conversely, General Counsel who fail to invest will condemn their lawyers to the drudgery of uninteresting work and create enormous ‘Legal Drag’ on their business.  

Often the challenge is framed as a simple lawyer productivity problem.  Although this is indeed an important consideration, it is the wrong starting point and will lead you to a simplistic, and incorrect answer (e.g. we need help drafting).   

To read more on why Legal Tech fails see our ebook here.

Legal Automation vs Document Automation

When people hear the term Legal Automation they often conflate it with the tool they are most familiar with. For example: just as cars were once called ‘mechanical wagons’, some decision makers confuse Legal Automation with Document Automation. Vendors selling outdated solutions like Document Automation often profit from this confusion.  

To put it simply; Legal Automation is a category of software designed to automate the creation, approval, and management of, often repetitive, legal tasks or augment lawyer productivity.       

Within the Legal Automation category there are three main pillars:

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The challenge for decision makers, when they are designing their technology strategy is that they will likely need multiple, if not all of these solutions. Legal functions have found process of procuring, deploying, integrating and managing each of these isolated solutions is not only cost and time prohibitive – it has a very high failure rate.

As one commentator said: ‘In buying multiple solutions we ended up feeling like we had built train stations out across the country with no train tracks leading into them. Not only was this expensive, no one used them’.  

This challenge has led to the development of integrated Legal Automation platforms called ‘Legal Operating Systems’.  These solutions integrate a wide array of legal technologies to both enable the business to self-manage legal tasks, while enabling lawyers to dramatically increase productivity. 

Legal Automation Maturity vs Opportunity 

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Case in Point

The move to Legal Operating Systems maps to the trend experienced in other functions. Originally functions adopted isolated software products to address niche needs, until they moved to wider integrated solutions. E.g. Marketing’s early investments into automation, in the early 2000s, was in things like email marketing and content management systems. Over time they found the lack of connectivity between systems limited their impact, and they have moved to Marketing Automation Platforms such as Marketo & Hubspot.

Being late to the adoption of technology means Legal can not only learn from the experiences of other functions, but it can ‘leap-frog’ outdated technology.     

Interested in investing in Legal Automation?  Use our ROI calculator to determine your business case: 

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Learn more about Legal Automation and how it can support your Legal Function. 

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