Artificial Lawyer recently published an article by Karl Chapman, the CEO of Kim Technologies. The Democratization of Document Automation: We have Reached the Tipping Point.
I'm sure that Kim is an excellent piece of technology, and anything that can make it easier to create automated templates at lower cost is a good thing. But this article significantly oversimplifies the work required to get good outcomes from an automation project.
Topics: Document Automation, Legal Technology, In-House Legal, Document Assembly, Law Firm Management, Digital Signatures, Self-Service Legal Automation, Automated NDAs, Legal Automation, Matter Management, Legal Operations, Contract Management
A lot of the focus when procuring new technology is on the initial upfront costs and the ongoing software and support costs. Fair enough, these are important in evaluating the cost of the new solution.
What often seems to be overlooked are the costs of the current process and the costs of delay. This often comes up when someone in charge of the business process has determined that they have a problem they would like to fix. When a solution they would like is agreed upon, they then need broader support from other teams, such as IT or procurement.
This can result in months, sometimes years, of delay, perhaps while the IT team consider if it would cost less for them to build a solution themselves.
An issue with getting a legal technology project approved in an organisation is proving the importance of the project and that there will be a good return on investment.
It can be easy to focus too narrowly on what the benefits will be.
In an earlier post, I suggested that customers should focus more on the relationship with their suppliers and less on the current technology features. Because requirements are changing so quickly, the supplier must be able to keep up.
A great relationship should not just be reactive. A good supplier will understand and care enough about the customer's business and changing requirements to proactively suggest improvements that the customer can adopt to get even better results.
One of the challenges in legal process automation projects is that it can be hard to figure out the current process and agree on what it ideally should be.
In many legal processes, there is no written process map at all.
A lot of technology is bought and sold based on how many features it has.
Vendors are certainly responsible for a lot of marketing, emphasising all their features while simultaneously claiming that their solution is incredibly simple and intuitive.
Buyers, especially those going through formal procurement processes with RFPs, massively overcomplicate things by including spreadsheets with tens, if not hundreds, of requirements.
At some point, everyone loses sight of two of the most important things:
The longer I've been working with legal technology, the more convinced I am that customers should be looking for relationships, not technology or particular solutions.
What do I mean?
There’s an ongoing debate about whether it’s better to have “point solutions” that only do one thing really well or a single platform that can do nearly everything.
There’s no obvious right answer but here's my thoughts.
Last week I had a call from a law firm that I first spoke to in June 2016, basically right after LawHawk launched.
The partner at that time told me “Yes, our firm is interested in the use of technology / automation etc in the profession. We have recently invested significant amounts of time (and some money) developing our own precedents and their automation using the Infinity system.”
Now, more than 5 years later, they don’t appear to have made any significant progress. Why not?