What is legal analytics, and how can it enhance business?
As more and more business becomes automated, digitized, and strategic, there is one area that has just started to take off: legal analytics. Lawyers are realizing their data is most relevant and can increase operational efficiency if it is being put to use. Legal analytics focuses on leveraging complex information and processing large amounts of data that would take much longer to find manually. These analytics help teams become more strategic and better predict how to create more effective contracts.
Here are the top five trends this year that legal teams are looking to help them improve their practice of law:
1. Analytics becomes a strategic initiative.
First and foremost, legal teams are recognizing the need for analytics. Working faster and smarter is often an initial reason for the initiative, but often this push also comes from a personal workflow need. Legal teams often deal with the same processes and get tired of doing manual work that takes them away from truly necessary and strategic approaches.
Collecting the data into a single source of truth that can be easily delivered within an organization helps Legal move away from these repetitive tasks. In this new age of information, everything needs to be easily accessible, including legal data.
2. AI and machine learning use go up.
Artificial intelligence, or AI as it is more commonly known, is already a part of most people’s everyday lives. Lawyers are now turning to it more and more as they see its benefits for helping teams turn their focus away from manual, administrative tasks, and letting the intelligence do this work. While many legal teams are adopting it mostly through the use of other digital software tools, awareness and acceptance of it as a whole are on the rise.
Take, for example, AI-powered chatbots. Filings and notifications are now automated, and in a situation where a lawyer can’t respond immediately, often a chatbot can take over and provide assistance. It may sound strange, but most lawyers aren’t trying to do something completely out of the ordinary, but instead model their tools after a bot like Siri, who is able to provide helpful information while being humanized by consumers. With this in place, legal advice and answers can become more automated.
3. People, processes, and documents will be consolidated and digitized.
As AI becomes more accepted within the legal industry, processes will improve. The use of technology is key to working faster and smarter. Having access to data doesn’t mean eliminating people’s jobs, rather, people are most effective in connecting the data in ways that are most meaningful to an organization.
Take contracts, something legal teams work with almost every day. A contract process can be lengthy, but through the use of templates, created with a combination of data behind which contracts are most effective and human authors. Approval workflows are set into place by humans who know the right people who need to look at the contract, then can be set into automation with similar contracts. Finally, deadlines can be set and monitored when an automatic notification is received. There are still humans connecting all these pieces together, being informed by data that they are able to obtain from their platforms.
4. Digitization of analog documents will increase efficiency and growth.
With nearly every business process in the Cloud, it’s shocking how behind most companies’ contracts are. Digitizing these documents enables teams to work at a faster rate, which ultimately leads to faster growth. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and impressive search functionalities have made digitization easier than ever before. Often a big hurdle for legal teams in adopting new technology is around process and the ability to find documents easily. With OCR, all documents are not only easy to find, but much easier than digging through filing cabinets or searching for names of PDFs. The freedom to set up processes that are quick and allow for more collaboration help teams become more strategic and eliminate the need for dull, administrative tasks.
5. Integrations will take over.
With data becoming a growing priority, making sure it’s connected is critical to success. Only getting part of the picture of any organization isn’t helpful, and even less so for legal teams who work with teams all across a company.
Part of the emerging platform economy thrives on open APIs that allow businesses to connect their data in whatever ways they need. Every company has its own unique processes, and integrating tools across a platform allows teams to be informed in every area they need.
Again, turning to the contract management example, a connected platform is essential to collecting data and putting it to use. This starts before a contract is even created. A sales team, for example, can create a contract directly from an opportunity in Salesforce or another CRM. The contract flows seamlessly into the contract lifecycle management platform, allowing both Sales and Legal to work faster and collaborate more effectively.
Modern businesses already put their analytics to use. Legal teams are finding more and more that their teams thrive when they incorporate data to work more effectively and efficiently. With contracts being such a large part of the day-to-day work, each of these five trends has a huge part to play in simplifying contract processes and helping improve workflows.