How Law Firms Improve Margins & Client Retention Through AI and Automation

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How Law Firms Improve Margins & Client Retention Through AI and Automation 

According to surveys done by Lawyer Firm News, Rocket Matter, and Logikcull, the nearly unanimous greatest challenge facing firms today is increased difficulty finding new clients. There is pressure to become more specialized and clients are expecting more services, higher quality and at a lower rate. Secondly, the internet has become a virtual showroom, meaning there is increased pressure on firms to stand out through their digital sales pitch than ever before. Lastly, the proliferation of DIY legal solutions for individuals and businesses have reduced the need for some of the most common legal services. Small firms and young solo attorneys are creating specialized services from the get-go while older firms who have had no need to specialize for decades are struggling to adapt. 
 
Today there are dozens of new cloud-based legal technology solutions in the market, but the challenge for most law firms is to determine where to get the best return on investment. And because of the decentralized nature of executive stakeholders, it takes much more lead time for law firms to even test technology solutions. The result of these complications means that it’s difficult, costly, and time-consuming for practices to identify which technology solutions work best. This is best solved by a 3rd party assessment, using a risk-based approach. 
 
A digital transformation strategy should include the following 5 key components: 
 
  1. The reduction of manual administrative tasks. Automation is no longer a nice to have. It should be an essential end-to-end business driven centralized service. 
  2. Transformation to a centralized cloud service provider for CRM, mobile services, data management and many other shared services. 
  3. Modernization of your Business Intelligence (BI) platform through efficient data ingestion and intuitive and predictive dashboards. 
  4. Establish a robust governance model and committee. 
  5. Embrace interactive mobile UI/UX solutions to improve client relationships and increase business.   

Key Challenges

Pressure to Become More Specialized 
 
This challenge is an illustration of a point mentioned above. As stated, because potential clients are digitally showrooming, firms must stand out from the crowd. Additionally, across all industries, consumers are demanding subject matter experts rather than a jack of all trades service provider. In the legal space, that means both personal and corporate consumers would rather procure their legal needs across multiple specialized firms on a need-by-need basis, rather than partnering with one firm who can ostensibly do everything. 
 
Clients Expecting More Services at a Lower Rate 
 
There are many reasons why this challenge exists. One of the most important factors is the introduction of cheap, DIY legal services that are driving potential clients’ cost expectations and the perceived value of legal expertise down. Another aspect is that more firms are presenting transparent pricing online and in person, forcing practices to compete on price for the first time. Coupled with the fact that legal services demand has been flat, law firms are undercutting each other more than ever and consumers are aware. Unlike some of the previously mentioned challenges, we’re starting to see firms solve this problem. Instead of turning to increased revenue as a driver of business growth, they’re finding new ways to decrease administrative cost in order to increase margins on existing revenue streams. We will explain how they are doing so. 
 
Too Much Time Wasted on Administrative Tasks 
 
On the topic of increasing margin on existing services, the most obvious source of wastes being cut are administrative tasks. These tasks are labor intensive, low margin, and at worst, unbillable. The most wasteful administrative tasks are those that require the expertise of an attorney rather than a full-time administrative assistant or clerk. By reducing the time spent on these particular tasks, firms are increasing margins and face time with clients. When you consider that consumers expect a greater level of customer service when they choose to engage a firm over a DIY solution, this is a true win-win. 
 
So, how are firms successfully streamlining these tasks? Through legal workflow automation. That is, cutting down the time spent on common administrative tasks like filings, searches, compliance, and registered agent services from hours each month to minutes, or in some cases seconds. That’s the power of automation that firms are beginning to embrace in an effort to fight their greatest challenges. 

Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) 

AutoML is a recent technology that automatically writes code to empower data scientists to program machine learning models to solve real world business problems.   
 
Most larger law firms have already invested in cloud services, mobile solutions and data warehousing / management solutions but they are often siloed with limited visibility in the return on investment. Technologies such as AutoML and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are still not commonplace in the legal industry. With the right technology partner, you will have the ability to assess these proven cost-cutting technologies with little or no up-front cost or business disruptions. Data-Core Automation has developed a platform that leverages several major cloud ML platforms to perform big data analytics without a subscription and without an internal data science team. To learn more about DCS-ai AutoML, visit our blog

How RPA Streamlines E-discovery and Information Overload 

The available information for most cases is impossible to completely sift through. In order to sift through all of this information, including scanned paper, pure digital documents, and other structured and unstructured data, lawyers have used various kinds of e-discovery tools. The tools are often expensive computer programs that scan thousands of documents for evidence at an exorbitant cost and effort.  
 
Many e-discovery tools still tend to rely heavily on human analysts manually culling through results. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can significantly simplify this time-consuming process. RPA can be used as a more flexible kind of e-discovery tool that sits on top of the other tools your team already uses. 
 
Automation is for more than just e-discovery. Software robots can certainly be trained to follow clear rules like “flag all mentions of X”, but that’s just the beginning of what RPA can do. You can even automate portions of processes that have unstructured data such as scanned documents. One example: many law firms use software to do things like help them draw up standard contracts or take people through common processes like the expected steps of incorporating a new business. In many cases, these processes are straight-forward and they run on a defined set of rules with few exceptions. Therefore, they present an excellent opportunity for RPA to help make firms more efficient. 
 
It’s inevitable that one day, legal software robots, supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) models, could quickly scan every legal suit ever tried. They could then advise clients on the likely outcomes of a current case they are working on, assisting lawyers to build stronger cases from the get-go. With more time to focus on critical and creative tasks, lawyers are free to do what they do best: practice law.   

Azure Power App Platform 

On behalf of a major NY-based global law firm, Data-Care compared the top three cloud service providers, Amazon, Azure and Google and determined that Microsoft’s Azure Power App platform is the practical choice for replacing legacy systems and gaining a competitive edge, with limited up-front investment. 
 
Key advantages included:  
  • Leveraging the latest features of Microsoft’s SQL on Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) 
  • Reducing IT management and administration overheads and increase overall agility in response to user requirements 
  • Data storage and management: Azure Synapse and Azure’s Power BI dashboards enable interdepartmental collaboration, better visibility and increased agility 
  • Designing UI/UX to enable intuitive navigation across different mobile devices, resulting in improved client relationships and increased business 
  • Template based Strategic Account Management portals that Integrate with their backend systems. Provisioning a new portal is done in 1-2 hours thanks to automation 
  • Partners and associates seamlessly access the platform from within and outside the network 
  • Partners and associates access the content on-the-go through their mobile devices without exposing their data to the internet
  • Increased efficiency and lower cost of operation because of the centralized platform 
  • Robust governance model. Able to manage the platform growth within a well-defined structure  
  • Integration with internal systems via Azure Integration Service 
  • Completely automated deployment process using Power Automate and Azure BOT 
     
Technologies Used:  
  • SharePoint Online, Business Connectivity Services, Azure Active Directory, Azure Synapse, Azure Integration Service, Power Automate and Azure BOT 
  • The solution uses the web service API provided by SharePoint for performing people search (e-discovery) that looks up for entries in AD based on the query provided.  
  • Xamarin is used for Cross-Platform Mobile App Development and securely connect to the firm’s corporate environment to fetch data without directly exposing any of their data to the internet.

Conclusion

IT departments in a typical law firm are less empowered, less proactive and much more reactive to the individual business requirements of the senior partners of the firm. There are too many automation technologies to sift through and do a cost/benefit analysis. We would like to introduce a new paradigm of what an assessment ought to accomplish. We all agree on common business goals and then we offer you several viable choices on how to achieve these goals. It is really that simple. Data-Core Automation specializes in Automation ROI Assessments, helping companies cut costs and improve workforce efficiencies, using a risk-based approach. Note that our assessments are fixed, outcome based and non-obligatory. That is, you do not pay unless you are satisfied with our deliverable (your choices). Whatever your status is today, we will work with you and never hold you hostage to our or anyone else’s technologies.  
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