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Artificial intelligence has come a long way in recent years and can now quickly perform time-consuming tasks that previously required human intelligence. As a result, the ever-evolving technology has been forging a path into many industries and has already started to bring fundamental change to the world of legal services. So how can you drive business growth by implementing artificial intelligence in your law firm?

One of the main challenges in the legal industry is the substantial time it takes to store, locate and secure client information - not to mention tracking this time to ensure it’s billed correctly. With artificial intelligence, however, you can effectively manage data and optimise processes in a fast-paced legal environment. In fact, document automation is the most common legal tech solution being adopted by firms, according to a 2020 report by the Australian Legal Technology Association. And Australian law firms who are using artificial intelligence for tasks such as this are more confident about their future, with more ambitious international growth plans than non-AI companies.

So with AI already making waves in the industry, what are the benefits of implementing it in your law firm?

The main benefits of artificial intelligence in law firms 

1. Secure digital archiving 

The legal sector is one of the most document-heavy industries in the world, alongside education, finance and healthcare. This is particularly true when it comes to paper files. In fact, the average employee in an Australian law firm will go through approximately 25,000 sheets of paper annually. This leaves firms open to human error and misplaced documents, which are only compounded by the challenges of file storage.

Ensuring compliant and secure file storage according to government regulations is essential to every law firm. However, physical file storage comes with many security risks, including theft, unauthorised access of documents, lost documents, limited ability to track or audit document trails, and increased vulnerability to natural disasters that may destroy files.

Conversely, a digital, AI-driven document management system can store and organise legal files, including contracts, case files, notes, letters and emails, so that the secure storage of sensitive client information is prioritised. With AI-powered digital archiving, firms can:

  • Ensure version control through revision-proof archiving

  • Securely integrate existing IT applications

  • Meet compliance checks for document retention

  • Track access and usage of documents

  • Lock access of certain files to particular individuals or teams

  • Securely destroy documents in accordance with privacy policies

  • Implement redundancy measures to ensure data is regularly backed up

  • Easily audit their processes to ensure continued compliance with government regulations

In this way, artificial intelligence in law firms can ensure that the highest standards of document security are routinely upheld.

2. Efficient data processing and retrieval

Tracking down information efficiently is paramount for legal firms. One of the benefits of AI technology is that it can help teams rapidly search a large database to find targeted information. This is enabled by intelligent capture software, which ‘reads’ documents, identifies key information and then correctly names, distributes, files and uploads them to the appropriate location with the right metadata. In this way, the digital database is made searchable using keywords or phrases to extract specific information.

This technology can also be used to speed up the processing of documents in the legal mailrooms. AI can read a letter, quickly understand what it’s about and automatically upload it to the respective lawyer’s case folder. This in turn allows the firm to provide their clients with rapid responses, rather than waiting days for the information to be processed and conveyed to them manually.

By implementing artificial intelligence in their law firms, employers can significantly reduce the time required to process documents, as well as eliminate the need to rummage through disorganised cabinets to find crucial information - and it’s all at the push of a few computer keys. Much of the laborious grunt work that has historically accounted for many billable hours can now be reduced to a fraction of the time.

3. Accounts payable & invoicing 

The power of AI lies in its identification and processing capabilities that continue to improve by using machine learning. This means the technology is able to regularly learn and optimise from repeated readings of documents. Similar to the data retrieval process, this can apply to invoice processing for accounts payable. 

AI technology can be used to automate invoicing by rapidly processing documents and recognising certain information such as invoice numbers and customer numbers. Once the document has been ‘read’, AI can then be used to automate the approvals process, reducing the time that your accounting team spends chasing people around the office. This sophisticated process increases data accuracy and integrity while reducing invoice processing time and cost. This allows your employees to redirect their focus to more strategic, high-value work that improves results and customer satisfaction.

As in many industries, the legal sector will need to be agile and implement new ways of working to remain competitive and respond to evolving client demands. By introducing artificial intelligence into law firms, the industry has much to gain from increased security, efficiency, visibility and customer satisfaction.

Whether you're looking to scale up or diversify your business, automation can help you create efficiencies, support future growth and add value to your organisation. Download our guide, Business Automation: How it generates value and supports growth, to learn more.