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September 25, 2018updated 14 Jul 2022 7:24am

UK Law Firms: Huge Scope for More Automation

From client terms to risk mitigation, time recording to pricing, the legal sector is ripe for disruption through intelligent automation, believes Intapp

By CBR Staff Writer

A major new survey of 111 leading UK law firms by professional services applications provider Intapp suggests they are lagging other sectors when it comes to deploying tools like intelligent automation, despite widely recognising their value.

The research, conducted in collaboration with The Lawyer, surveyed 111 law firms in the UK and sought to identify where firms are positioned on the “data-driven insights and intelligent automation adoption curve”. 

Intapp Survey: Key Findings

Among the survey’s key findings were that:

Intapp law survey

86 percent of firms believe that using data-driven insight to manage client terms is important, but only 17 percent currently use technology solutions for this purpose.

91 percent firms feel intelligent automation is important for resource allocation, yet only 20% have invested in this area.

85 percent of law firms agree that automation is important to deliver insight and analytics to clients, only 20 percent have made the investments necessary to embed this capability.

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What is Intapp?

Intapp, despite a relatively low profile, serves 700 professional services firms worldwide, including 96 of the Global 100 Law Firms.

Speaking to Computer Business Review over lunch on Monday, Intapp CEO John Hall said: “When Intapp engineers first built some of the technology we use, they went to get it patented and the lawyer – once he had dealt with their application – told them ‘by the way, my law firm is really messed up in this area; can I license this from you?’

“So our patent lawyer became the first client of our company and their IT director loved it so much he joined our company as the first sales director.”

He added: “It’s fair to say the legal sector is one we care about a lot and there is huge scope for improvement in what so many law firms do; those that don’t keep up with the innovations in the market today do run the risk of losing a competitive edge.”

What Can Law Firms Actually Automate Effectively?

While to the casual observer the legal sector may not seem particularly ripe for the introduction of predictive analytics tools and self-optimising machine learning algorithms, Intapp, which also does extensive work in the financial services sector, where it has had to develop sophisticated tools handling compliance issues, says that among the key areas law firms can automate are time recording, pricing, and relationship mapping.

Time recording sits at the heart of the law firm business model, with billable hours the currency by which traditional firms operate. AI-driven activity capture activity allows the generation of automatically prepared timesheets that can accelerate billing and collections and minimise revenue leakage.

In terms of pricing, Intapp provides tools that allow companies to scan all matters it has undertaken, understand the resource requirements and recommend a suitable pricing structure, allowing firms to deliver pricing propositions that are both attractive to clients – amid increased pressure for value and customised fee arrangements – and profitable for partners.

As CEO John Hall told Computer Business Review: “When a global law firm is going to pitch for a major contract often it is so distributed that skills and experience from partners get overlooked; the standard way that is updated is still all too often an annual meeting of partners and the exchange of business cards. Our tool can allow a law firm to rapidly scan its talent pool as well as data on previous cases to assess who may be well equipped to contribute and a lot more.”

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