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Document automation: finding the right resource for effective implementation

When implemented effectively, document automation generates substantial commercial benefits for law firms and in-house legal teams.

But the automation process itself continues to pose a significant obstacle to kicking off and scaling automation across the business – often because it requires multi-disciplinary time and expertise which can be difficult to resource internally.

Critical to success is identifying and then resourcing the right blend of skills, knowhow and experience.

As automation implementation specialists with extensive legal and drafting experience, at BrightDraft we solve this problem by partnering with firms and in-house teams on a fully flexible basis to kick-start, scale up and optimise your document automation initiatives.

In this article we focus on the key ingredients needed for effective automation, how best to source them and why partnering with an automation implementation specialist could be the answer you are looking for.

Document automation: principal objectives

In our earlier article we outlined the substantial benefits on offer from document automation, and identified some of the key reasons why implementation projects often stall (and some top tips to overcome them) which you can read about here.

Strategically, your primary objective for any automation initiative will always be to:

  • Roll out automation as quickly as possible to start generating time savings and a return on investment; whilst

  • At the same time, producing high quality automation to drive the most efficiencies, encourage adoption, and reduce risk.

So what’s the best way to get there in terms of resourcing?

Implementing document automation: the key ingredients for success

A crucial point to remember is that the automation process is not just an IT solution: combined, experienced legal, coding and automation knowhow, working within a properly managed process, is essential to deliver high quality automation quickly.

A central oversight function to project manage and push roll-out across the business, with experience of engaging with senior lawyers and a strong understanding of automation and how to overcome its implementation challenges, will also boost your prospects of roll-out success.

Blending these skill sets: the resourcing challenge

So how can you resource the right blend of these skill sets to drive your automation projects forward without affecting your fee earning and other business priorities?

This is always the crux of the implementation challenge. Whilst the rewards are clear, optimal automation takes time, skill and focus to get right: a methodical, structured approach based on legal and automation experience is essential.

But lawyers have multiple other fee earning and practice development priorities, and technical IT / coding experts face ever-growing demands on their time for supporting other infrastructure and efficiency projects.

Furthermore (and particularly at the start of an automation project):

  • Lawyers unfamiliar with automation need to be guided through how best to prepare the content, scope what should be automated, and agree risk parameters for testing;

  • IT technical experts need guidance on what to automate and how the legal drafting should flow.

Without specific automation experience to join the dots, this can lead to hours of liaison time, frustration and a lack of automation progress. Even “low / no code” automation systems are likely to require specific automation expertise to encourage adoption and build lawyer trust.

Resourcing options

An attractive option to solve the resourcing challenge is to partner with an automation implementation specialist, especially if they combine experienced legal, drafting and automation knowhow.

This is what we offer at BrightDraft: firms / legal departments often lack time and resource internally to be able to drive forward automation projects and ring-fence clear roles, responsibilities and fee earner time to such projects.

Operating at that intersection between law and technology, with our combined experience we bridge the gap to help firms realise all the commercial benefits on offer from automation.

Even firms with established automation teams are looking for flexible external assistance to manage demand and accelerate investment return.

So a balance of internal resource / external support will help you to:

  • get up and running quickly and make sustained progress, using external expertise to:

    • optimise your automation processes;

    • make faster in-roads into automation projects themselves;

    • minimise fee earner input time;

    • manage the roll-out centrally;

    • upskill internal resource/knowhow;

    • liaise between stakeholders;

    • maximise investment return through expert input into the automation process; and

  • manage future spikes in demand for automation, both internally and increasingly from clients.

Over time you can adjust that balance up or down depending on which resourcing model suits your business best as time goes on.

To the extent that you do need to deploy internal legal and/or technical resource for automation projects, ring-fencing dedicated time is essential for success. Some firms have introduced an “innovation hours” allowance for lawyers which counts towards chargeable targets, and permitting automation delivery within this allowance would be a useful first step.

Without ring-fencing and management support, automation delivery will struggle.

In summary

It’s worth remembering that even after netting off the initial implementation and software licence costs, just a modest amount of effective automation is likely to generate attractive returns on investment within short timescales.

Those returns would scale even further over time (and even more so when more documents are automated), and there are significant additional advantages such as freeing up lawyer time for other chargeable work, reducing risk, increasing recovery rates against fixed fees and increasing market competitiveness.

Partnering with an implementation specialist enables you to solve the resourcing challenge, establish optimal delivery processes and embed automation as a powerful efficiency tool across your business.

About BrightDraft

BrightDraft is a document automation consultancy run for lawyers, by lawyers. We solve the implementation challenge by combining years of legal, automation and project delivery experience to help busy lawyers kick-start and scale up their automation and other efficiency projects.

We understand lawyers’ needs and expectations; we have many years of legal experience at the front line of top UK and global law firms; we have automation experience.


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