Artificial Intelligence (AI) has garnered a lot of hype in the legal community, and despite being an industry that is slow to adopt technology, it has also gathered some momentum in-house, thanks in large part to the growing focus on optimising legal operations.

While only 6% of law departments have implemented an AI-enabled technology, the majority of legal counsel surveyed share common hopes for what benefits AI will bring; 71% saying to increase productivity without increasing headcount, 66% to improve law department operations and 66% to enable self-service by clients (HBR Consulting survey).

With increased pressure to operate like any other business unit, control costs and demonstrate value, large and small legal departments are adopting new, innovative technology to increase efficiency and be more effective. However, small legal departments who are at the first stage of digitization will find it challenging to truly benefit from AI-based applications.

To better illustrate this point, take Contract Management as an example. The key to managing your obligations and reducing risk is your ability to locate existing contracts (i.e. “discover”), track clauses and deadlines, and standardise terms. If you are currently doing this in spreadsheets with ad hoc processes and inconsistent terms, the first thing you need to do is get all of your contracts in one place. With everything in one place, you can then start using smart tools like tasks, workflows and alerts to standardise collaborative processes and reduce the time you spend on admin tasks. Then, once your operations matures, you can focus on how technology (AI-based or others) can help you with analytics, discovery or other operational improvements.

Using your legal operations’ digital maturity as a guide will help you identify what pain points your technology needs to help you fix. Most often, the solution isn’t AI – but rather simple, smart tools that make organizing and reporting on your legal information easier, empowering you to take strategic decisions, manage risk and demonstrate value.

Making that initial investment in technology should take your people, processes and priorities into consideration so that you choose a solution that meets the unique requirements of your legal department.

For legal departments looking to take that first step towards digitizing their legal operations, we’ve developed a helpful white paper “Digital Transformation for Legal Departments”. In it, we explore the 8 simple steps you can take to implement more efficient tech in your legal department. Download your free copy here.

And, if you’re ready to start evaluating a solution to store, manage and report on your legal information - like contracts, corporate records, claims, compliance policies, IP rights, data privacy and more – schedule a personalised demo to learn how effacts can help you deliver results quickly.