find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Archaic firm practices would ‘horrify’ clients

Archaic firm practices would ‘horrify’ clients

A technology expert has urged lawyers to stop living in the dark ages and embrace document automation.

Catherine Bamford, director of Bamford Legal Engineering, delivered a speech titled Next generation automation: Rise of the machines at this year’s Janders Dean Legal Knowledge and Innovation Conference (19-20 September).

“I am going to give you a serious and stark warning that if your … lawyers [are] not already using [document automation] as the business-as-usual way to draft all of their documents and reports then you are already behind the curve and you do need to catch up fast,” she said.

Bamford compared neglecting document automation to accountants doing calculations using a pen and paper instead of using Excel.

“[Document automation] enables lawyers to prepare documents and reports in a fraction of the time it does with quill and ink as well as minimising risk, ensuring firm style consistency and improving quality.”

Firms that already have entire teams working on document automation are going to have the edge when it comes to confidently pitching the benefits to clients about these innovative, efficient, value-adding and risk-managing products, she said.

Firms should let machines do the heavy lifting

The way that many law firms currently operate is highly inefficient, according to Bamford.

Drafting documents by hand is time-consuming and does not make the best use of a lawyer’s expertise

“Having been a junior lawyer myself, I liked that document automation did enable me to focus on what I actually went to law school for,” she said.

She used the example of drawing up a tenant lease to demonstrate her point.

She said that in drafting this document a lawyer would typically go onto the firm’s intranet, find the precedent, print it out, mark it up, putting the same information into three of four different places and then send it off to typing.

“Now, lawyers did not go to law schools to do this and clients do not expect to be paying for it. In fact, if your client realised, which some now are, they would be horrified.”

While the process takes a lawyer approximately an hour in terms of recorded time, often a day or two has passed since receiving the clients’ instructions.

Document automation, on the other hand, is neat and tidy and takes about half the time, said Bamford.

Lawyers work through an online questionnaire that acts as a checklist to all the legal points that need to be considered, with each question only appearing if relevant based on the previous questions answered, she added.

Becoming the ‘dream lawyer’

Document automation, according to Bamford, is a sure way of cementing a client relationship because it lets firms deliver high-quality services and anticipate their client’s needs.

She said that firms could develop client-specific online databases to help in-house lawyers and even offer advice about company management by capturing data about legal disputes.

“[This way] you become the dream lawyer; you become the guard rail at the top of the cliff, rather than the ambulance at the bottom,” she said.

While partners might be “resistant” and practitioners might be sceptical about the potential for automation, Bamford said that she has yet to find a legal transaction or a dispute that cannot be automated in some way.

 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Archaic firm practices would ‘horrify’ clients
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Oct 19 2017
‘Ego status’ compelled ex-lawyer to defraud $2.97m, court told
Debarred lawyer John Gordon Bradfield told an NSW District Court that he was driven by “ego status...
Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legislation,
Oct 19 2017
ALA welcomes ‘tough’ Qld manslaughter laws
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legisl...
Legal podcasts, tune in, microphone
Oct 19 2017
Legal podcasts you have to tune in to right now
The rise of the internet has hailed in a new dawn for storytelling. Here’s our top pick of podcast...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...