As the pace of change accelerates in the legal sector, today’s law firms are taking a transformative approach to solving business challenges. New and disruptive technologies serve to increase transparency, reduce risk, and increase the value of legal services. The ‘traditional’ law firm model is quickly fading, and firms that embrace technological advancement will emerge as the firms of the future.

From making knowledge discoverable to building self-service portals for clients, there’s plenty of room for disruption in the legal industry. Here, we look at five areas that are ripe for disruption in legal operations.

Knowledge Management

Though not traditionally the vanguard of innovation, Knowledge Management (KM) is quickly becoming the hub of digital transformation in today’s firms. Once limited to organising and managing the firm’s knowledge; KM now has the potential to play a crucial role in the overall strategy of legal operations.

As the gatekeepers of the firm’s most valuable resource, KM has immense potential to impact the firm’s bottom line. Modern KM programs extend far beyond just knowledge libraries to uncover and implement ways to enhance collaboration, improve productivity, and increase quality across the service delivery process. From digitising documents to automating knowledge delivery, there’s ample room for KM to drive forward innovation in legal.

Business Acceptance

Compliance is a core - and continuing - concern for today’s firms. Know Your Client requirements and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations pose the challenge of efficiently taking on new clients, whilst managing regulatory, financial and reputational risks. Firms must ensure they follow appropriate compliance procedures, yet they also need to be able to easily accept new business and quickly on-board clients.

By automating the intake process, firms can accelerate the acceptance of new clients, whilst quickly identifying potential risks. For example, top-tier Baltic law firm COBALT is implementing a fully automated risk-based business inception process that evaluates new business opportunities based on a predefined set of rules determined by the firm’s priorities, including local and EU AML regulations. The automated risk-based acceptance process allows the firm to gain greater visibility, control, and agility across the business-acceptance lifecycle.

Contract Creation

A recent Legal Trends Report suggests that lawyers spend about 50 percent of their time on administrative tasks, such as reviewing and drafting documents. Manually drafting new contracts and other documents for every matter requires a significant amount of time, which could be better spent billing hours or advising clients. However, automation can simplify the drafting of legal documents and lead to faster results.

Document Automation solutions use intuitive online questionnaires to help lawyers quickly and accurately complete contracts, documents and compile document packs. By automating frequently used contracts and documents, firms can shift lawyers time from drafting documents to focusing on client needs.

Contract Negotiation

Negotiating contracts is critical to business success - however, it’s also often a very timely process. By digitising the negotiation phase of the contract lifecycle, firms can increase productivity, minimise risk, and accelerate business.

Workflow automation, combined with e-signing features, can streamline the negotiation phase by enabling lawyers to route completed contracts to signatories - either individually or in order of precedence - by email for review and signature. To sign, signatories simply click on the colour-coded links within the contract and type their name. For even greater ease of use, contracts can even be executed via mobile device.

Service Delivery

Another area that’s ripe for disruption is legal service delivery. The legal landscape has shifted, and clients want more transparency, immediacy and value from their legal providers. One concept that’s proving highly successful, especially among Nordic firms, is self-service client portals. Though self-service isn’t a new concept, the approach has only recently started to take hold in the legal sector and it’s rapidly transforming legal service delivery.

Self-service portals leverage document workflow automation to allow clients to quickly generate firm-approved documents on a self-service basis. For example, a client might use a self-service portal to access the template for a simple NDA, which they could then complete by filling out an online questionnaire. The template would be fully managed by the client’s legal provider to ensure it’s up-to-date and includes all relevant clauses. By giving clients self-service access to key legal documents, firms can not only improve client relationships and create service differentiation, but also improve profitability.