Nokes wrote a feature for Simplilearn, the world’s #1 online boot camp.
Digital transformation in the legal profession is a train that’s long left the station. The only question facing law partners and corporate counsels is whether their attorneys and staff have adequate skills to compete in today’s digital environment.
Fortunately, there are proven, efficient and flexible resources through Simplilearn to upskill legal department staff at every level. Even better, Simplilearn will customize its online course menu to match each legal team’s specific needs.
Building a Business Case for Digital Transformation in Legal Departments
Digital transformation isn’t about replacing lawyers with technology — it’s about efficiency and putting legal talents to their best use. The technology used to digitize many legal tasks is mature and widely accepted. Consider the costly hours firms and legal departments spend reviewing agreements, drafting and reviewing contracts, engaging in discovery, and transcribing correspondence. Many of these tasks are now digitally managed.
The digital transformation enables legal teams to spend less time on administrative tasks and more hours on strategic advice, which adds significant business value, the Deloitte report said.
In a 2018 report by Deloitte, the consensus amongst general counsels and their teams was that technology would transform in-house legal functions. While the report said many firms are on their second or third wave of digital solutions, adoption by a large percentage of legal departments has been slow.
Three years later, the train is even further down the track with advances in natural language processing (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain, and other efficiencies
Natural Language Processing
NLP technology eliminates a lot of contract drafting work. NLP automates research, and its intuitive document and knowledge management functions speed precedent searches. NLP enables computers to understand, read, analyze and interpret human language. Modern legal departments use NLP to create and evaluate legal agreements. Not only is NLP growing in the legal profession, but according to Forbes India, the healthcare industry is adopting its use.
NLP two main practical applications for legal departments:
- Information retrieval – NLP helps teams search documents relevant to the legal discovery process. NLP can zero in on relevant internal documents and external sources to help staff draft agreements and review proposed or existing contracts. Deloitte wrote that legal organizations have a vast volume of data under their control and that valuable insights can only be retrieved with technology.
- Information extraction – Applications can uncover relevant facts within lengthy documents or recordings, and then be stored and processed in a database. According to Law Practice Today, this technology has specific uses in contract and case law for contract management departments, derivatives traders, energy company legal departments, and intellectual property attorneys.
Leveraging the Cloud in Legal Departments
Storing applications on third-party servers in the cloud removes the need for in-house storage. Staff can access what they need through the internet. According to the American Bar Association: “lawyers and law firms see the cloud as a fast and scalable way to use advanced legal technology tools without the need for a substantial upfront capital investment in hardware, software, and support services.”
However, “the biggest concerns from the ABA 2019 Legal Technology Survey were the poor — and worsening — cybersecurity approaches lawyers are taking to the use of cloud applications.”
Cybersecurity is a concern that highlights the need for practical staff education.
How Blockchain Can Enable Legal Departments
While more closely associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology has the potential to help keep accurate historical records of each legal case. An article by abclegal.com states that blockchain may change how law firms conduct services from escrow management to contract and transactional processes.
Robotic Process Automation in Legal Departments
Another emerging digital technology transforming legal departments is RPA. It can streamline and accelerate operations by creating automated workflows that can interface with internal departments, external parties, and employees. While it can reduce the need for manual steps such as phone calls and emails, it also reduces the chance of overlooking critical processing steps.
Use Case: Deploying AI in the Legal Industry
Law’s digital transformation is getting a needed boost by legal professionals and law students who are curating and labeling an open-sourced training dataset of legal contracts for artificial intelligence (AI) research. Legal interpretation requires an understanding of legal concepts, not just terminology, and, up to now, NLP and AI systems have not had the detailed expert knowledge of contract attorneys. However, this is changing.
With the Atticus Open Data Project, legal professionals and law students worldwide have created the Contract Understanding Atticus Dataset (CUAD). Affiliated with the University of California Berkeley School of Law, the project aims to provide the knowledge base about contract terms and concepts that AI systems need to make automated evaluations and decisions about contracts.
There is a need for high-quality, trustworthy AI systems that can understand legal text. However, the technology depends on the availability, quality, and transparency of legal documents annotated by legal experts.
The program description states that the inability to review large volumes of legal contracts accurately and in a timely manner has hindered the legal professionals’ ability to keep up with today’s agile and data-driven executive decision-making.
Attorneys can volunteer by reviewing legal contracts annotated by law students to teach, create training modules, and host training workshops. They will work with AI tools, collaborate with AI and data scientists, and gain a deep understanding of how AI works in legal contract review.
Upskill With Simplilearn
Helping your employees broaden their skills in digital technologies will help your organization flourish in this new, more efficient environment. Simplilearn offers affordable, flexible online courses geared to all levels of legal professionals:
- Senior management should acquire skills in digital transformation.
- Attorneys and paralegals should understand quality management, project management, and RPA.
- IT staff can sharpen their technical skills to support RPA, AI and machine learning, quality management, and project management.
No matter where your legal department is on the digital technology spectrum, Simplilearn tailors enterprise skilling programs that will open a new world of possibilities for your firm and better service to your clients.