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Intelligent Automation versus Automating Intelligently: Scaling legal service delivery

Intelligent Automation vs Automating Intelligently

Implementing Intelligent Automation, Robotic Process Automation, and certain Artificial Intelligence tools can help to scale the delivery of legal services by in-house teams. However, it is important to determine whether your in-house legal team is ready to automate intelligently.

Alistair Griffin

Head of Legal Technology, KPMG Law

KPMG Australia


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General Counsels (GCs) and Legal Operations Executives support a growing spectrum of risk, compliance, governance, operations and regulatory issues – all set against aspirations to achieve operational excellence and requirements that they become efficient functions within their organisation.

However, with head count, technology and budget pressures, tweaking the existing operating model may not be sufficient to meet this challenge. Therefore, many in-house teams are investigating the benefit of technology transformation strategies. They are looking to ‘legal tech’ to provide scalable legal services – such as Intelligent Automation (IA), robotic process automation (RPA) and certain Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

However, if you’re a GC or Legal Operations Executive, it is important to determine whether your in-house legal team is ready to automate intelligently. If the processes, procedures or documentation that may be subject to automation are inherently inefficient, are ripe for re-design or are not grounded in sound legal analysis, is IA and RPA really where you should start?

KPMG’s report, Ready, set, fail? Avoiding setbacks in the intelligent automation race (PDF 1.8MB), revealed what executives from a number of industries and geographies around the world think in relation to IA. It found that 37 percent of respondents are currently examining the potential impacts of IA and RPA on their business operations, and 24 percent are currently trialling proofs of concepts. It also found that in the next 3 years, close to half of the respondents intended to use IA and RPA at scale within their business.

We believe that automation of standard contract forms and the introduction of self-service legal solutions such as chat bots will contribute to a platform that legal teams can leverage to provide scalable legal advice. However, automation for the sake of automation is not enough to generate the desired return on investment.

Automating inefficient processes or documents including legal errors, may amplify adverse consequences through the organisation and highlight the need to adhere to the principles of automating intelligently. In the report, Cliff Justice, Principal, Innovation & Enterprise Solutions and leader of Intelligent Automation Initiatives, KPMG LLP, comments:

“It’s not clear whether most companies understand that intelligent automation is about changing business processes, and then restructuring the organisation around those new processes now driven by technologies that didn't exist before. This means shifting the business and operating model from one of people supported by technology, to one of technology supported by people. It's a digital-first operating model.”

The report considers the return on investment that can be gained by four different phases of implementation of IA, with a transformative approach providing businesses with the possibility of a productivity and innovation benefit of up to 10x the current operations.

When considering what automation solutions are right for a legal team, the broader legal transformation strategy and transformation plan need to be carefully considered. An assessment of the quality of documents to be automated and the efficiency of current processes should precede the introduction of new technologies.

Automation solutions are a pertinent consideration for GCs and Legal Operations Executives, and automation of current processes may deliver positive results. However, the more successful in-house teams will rethink the processes that underpin how they deliver legal services and then on-board IA to achieve real value and a substantial return on investment.

Our Legal Operations and Transformation Services team can assist in-house legal teams to rethink the delivery of legal services. Our team of former General Counsels, experienced legal project managers, business process engineers and applied legal technologists come together to help transform legal teams to their optimal future state.

Download full report (PDF 1.8MB)

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