Corporate counsel take the lead! The future of automation is in-house


With teams going remote, Josef has seen a surge in activity from corporate legal teams. Our CEO, Tom Dreyfus, explores why, how and what comes next.

This year has seen a once-in-a-generation transformation of the way we work. While we’re only a few months into a pandemic likely to have a long tail, at Josef, we’re already learning new and important lessons about what this transformation means for the legal industry.

The number one lesson so far? Self-help, self-service and self-sufficiency, both for legal professionals and their clients, matter more than they ever have. 

Nowhere is this more apparent than for in-house teams. These are the legal professionals on the front lines of business transformation. And from what we’ve seen, they are responding with creative and dynamic solutions.

Josef's CEO, Tom Dreyfus

Josef's CEO, Tom Dreyfus

The way things used to be…

Usually, the legal professionals creating automation tools on our no-code platform are so diverse – from partners in BigLaw to paralegals at Legal Aid – that it’s challenging to see the patterns in what they build.

But, since COVID-19 hit, we’ve seen a surge in demand at Josef from in-house legal teams focused on automating three things: 

(1) Intake and triage;

(2) Answering FAQs; and

(3) Self-service document automation.

Why? Because the way people used to access legal resources makes a lot less sense in a remote world. Pre-COVID, many of these teams described their colleagues helping themselves to legal advice on the fly. Typically, they’d be sitting in the legal department, and someone would pop by their desk with a “quick question”, or they’d get a call from someone who “just needed a second opinion”. 

Now that we’re all working remotely, and with everyone suffering Zoom fatigue, that type of work has dried up. For some lawyers, that might seem like a good thing. Unfortunately, it has also meant that the velocity at which the essential legal work gets done for approvals, compliance, deal-making and regulatory issues has decreased. It leads to legal – and lawyers – looking to the rest of the business like they’re just getting in the way. 

In-house teams have been building automation tools faster than ever.

In-house teams have been building automation tools faster than ever.

This is where Josef comes in. In-house teams have been building automation tools faster than ever to ensure consistent and efficient workflows, and enable legal self-service across the whole business.

Intake and triage

Too often, requests are made by a client to the person in the legal team with whom they have a relationship. And unfortunately, often these requests look a bit like this:

“Hi {{ friendly lawyer }}

Hoping you can take a quick look at this agreement. I’d like to send it out today or tomorrow if possible. Let me know if it’s good to go!

Cheers

{{ Hopeful client }}”

Streamlining the process for gathering this kind of information is crucial for the efficient operation of an in-house practice. Luckily, most legal teams already know the information that they need from each client to open a new matter and get the work done. And if that’s the case, then it’s a simple matter of building an automation tool that is capable of gathering that information and feeding it to the right person in the team.

Intake and triage bots built on Josef do this at scale. The best ones are designed to reflect the way that the legal team works. They are capable of sending information directly to any matter management software that the legal team is using. And, if the legal team can’t help, they redirect the request to the appropriate place.

The value of an effective intake and triage tool is immense. For the legal team, the requests that  come in are detailed and complete. For clients, they know what they need to provide, and expectations for a response are clear.

In the last 3 months, corporate counsel have

In the last 3 months, corporate counsel have "taken the lead" in automation activity at Josef.

Answering FAQs

One of the most common refrains we hear from in-house teams is that they’ve created a tonne of excellent legal content – maybe it’s sitting on the intranet or in a legal wiki – and absolutely no one ever reads it!

They continue to get the same FAQs over and over again. And they continue to provide answers, knowing that the client could answer the question for themselves. Enter FAQ bots. More often than not, the problem isn’t the availability of the information, but rather it’s lack of accessibility. Burying the answer to a legal question in a fact sheet, or 10 scrolls down on an intranet page, doesn’t cut it for a busy person in another part of the business.

A conversational bot that enables the user to find the answer to their question quickly and easily increases self-help rates. 

But, more than just reducing the legal team’s workload, it also creates a better client experience. Finding an answer to a simple FAQ can be frustrating: demonstrating legal’s value by making those answers easily accessible transforms that experience for clients.

Automation can no longer just be the domain of technical experts, consultants or IT.

Automation can no longer just be the domain of technical experts, consultants or IT.

Self-service document automation

This is the number one thing that in-house teams wish they had in place! 

Some legal teams have implemented internal document assembly solutions, helping their lawyers to swiftly create error-free templates. But in this new remote world, it is clients who need to self-serve their way to a perfect first draft without any lawyerly assistance. 

Think of your Confidentiality Agreements, Services Agreements and any number of form requests that would usually find their way into the @legal inbox. Now think about making these documents available to your clients through a bot – built, controlled and managed by the legal team – that is clever enough to ask the right questions, and then generate the document that your client needs.

Maybe that document goes directly to the client for signing? Or maybe, because it’s high value or complex, you set up your bot to send it to the right person in the team to review. Self-service document automation tools ensure that the right document is accessible to clients when they need it.

So, what comes next?

The trend towards self-help, self-service and self-sufficiency won’t end with clients. Post-COVID-19, companies will continue to expect more from their legal teams. And the more that legal professionals can do for themselves, the better they’ll be positioned to thrive in this new working environment. 

That is why the proliferation of no-code legal bot builders makes sense to us at Josef. Because automation can no longer just be the domain of technical experts, consultants or IT. It needs to belong to the legal operations professionals, the lawyers, and the HR and compliance managers. The ones capable of taking their own day-to-day work and creating smart automation tools.

And that is a future that we want to be a part of.

If you want to learn more about how your team can use Josef, book in a time with one of our automation experts!