Getting down to the crux of the matter
As we head into February, fully committed to making 2023 a fantastic year, we have started looking at how to take legal practices to the next level.
We have both collections and compliance sorted with some useful tools that can be incorporated into your legal practice (as soon as today in fact), making work life less of a worry and more of a joy – something we spoke about in our first article on Beyond Tech Trends.
But it doesn’t end with collections and compliance. We still have litigation, commercial and conveyancing to investigate.
There is still so much more to say.
So, without wasting any more time, let’s get on with it shall we?
What do litigation, commercial and conveyancing have in common?
This isn’t a trick question.
While it may seem like they are miles apart, there is one thing that draws them very closely together. And that is documentation.
Whether it’s the storing thereof, drafting thereof or simply managing the workflow thereof – litigation, commercial and conveyancing departments all drown in documentation. It comes with the territory.
It therefore stands to reason that remaining on top of this rather sore point is something all three departments will want to do.
Now we may have already discussed the points that follow a number of times, most recently in our article Reflections: On Legal Tech Trends, but we believe they bear repeating. After all, driving home a point often requires just that – driving home that point.
Therefore, as far as documentation goes, there are 3 areas that will require some degree of tech incorporation. And these include automating the drafting of documents, automating workflows so that they are less labour intensive and thereafter storing the immense amount of data that will be accumulated while working with various forms of documentation in a safe and secure online platform – whether it’s litigation, commercial or conveyancing related, the requirements will be the same –
1. Document Automation – automating the drafting of documents, including various contracts and other documents (like Summonses or Affidavits) significantly decreases the time it ordinarily takes a lawyer to execute them by their own hand. This is done by using legal tech to automate the repetitive, manual processes by streamlining and systemising the workflow. The result? Increased productivity and fewer mistakes. And the knock-on effect of this is that valuable employees are freed up to devote their time (and expertise) to more knowledge-based, specialist tasks, where they can use their skills in a strategic way to outperform competitors. With the additional use of cloud-based document automation, data is seamlessly integrated into templates which populate signature-ready documents instantly. XpressDox is a powerful document assembly system managing your document automation needs with ease. It can be used as a stand-alone product, on a network, via the web, or even from within your own application or website.
2. Workflow Automation – the name kind of gives it away… Nevertheless, when work flows are automated, it means that legal tech has been incorporated into certain processes to facilitate, structure, and streamline the performance of repetitive and labour-intensive legal tasks. Instead of retyping a long document or spending hours reformatting, you can simply upload your document and the workflow tech does the rest. FLOW is designed for this very purpose. It automates repetitive processes and increases throughput by improving control and ensuring accuracy. It’s also a standalone, configurable workflow system that is perfect for any process that has a defined set of steps or stages. Better still, it can be easily accessed via the Cloud. PRO and ENTERPRISE both contain the ability for configurable embedded workflow solutions as part of the AJS financial and practice management solutions.
3. Cloud-computing – keeping a vast amount of data organised in an efficient and accessible manner is an absolute necessity. Lawyers whether they practice in litigation, commercial or conveyancing departments deal with a lot of information, operating many documents and analysing a big scope of data. Thus, the importance of cloud-based storage cannot be over-emphasised. Hosted cloud servers (with improved security measures) that provide cloud-based storage allow legal professionals to operate remotely (and in the cloud) whilst also providing teams with more opportunities for online collaboration. AJS products are all cloud-based which means that authorised users can access their system securely from anywhere, on almost any device.
And now that we know how similar these departments are (and what can be done that works for all 3 of them), lets chat about how they differ and what specifically applies to each of them.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a legal team working on a high-profile litigation matter was able to analyse everything from their client’s side of the story (aka facts), to how successful their matter may be (compared to a matter with similar circumstances) to having data insights and analytics at their fingertips, on-the-go and at the click of a button?
Talk about new-age litigation prep!
You guessed it. We are talking about data analytics. And it may sound like old news, but trust us when we say that this is how litigation lawyers will be approaching their work in the days, months and years to come.
This article by Tarsus sets out the importance of data analytics for legal practices, once again “driving home the point” –
“Big data analytics can be used to identify previously overlooked patterns by using analytical understanding and predetermined conclusions to get desired results and understand and interpret data in terms of existing issues…. our ability to use big data determines how we make informed decisions. Data enables you to view and analyse the relevant trends and to take advantage of this data in court, as well as in legal documentation and client handling, thereby speeding up the justice process.”
Jutastat Evolve , a South African made product, seeks to save users time whilst undertaking legal research. At the same time Jutastat Evolve also enhances the depth of research undertaken, thereby adding rigour to legal arguments, and ultimately providing an unprecedented tactical advantage.
Lexis + a truly global offering, offers broad coverage and a great depth of research to its users. It analyses data from massive amounts of court documents to offering insight into the Judge that will be hearing a matter to helping lawyers understand their opposing counsel better. In fact users are able to have a side-by-side “comparison of judge behavior, courtroom trends, and law firm performance based on actual litigation results over time.”
And if you ask us, by incorporating Jutastat Evolve or perhaps even Lexis + (if it applies to your location), a competitive edge is exactly what you will have.
For more info on legal analytics, read Juta’s article here.
Commercial law departments will benefit the most from document and workflow automation as well as storing their data on the cloud. That’s a no-brainer.
But there is another area where commercial law departments may find a little boost to their practice. And that’s with Client Portals.
A client portal can be thought of as a “private” and protected message board between the client and their lawyer. The protection part of this portal is vital – as it needs to provide for the secure transfer of information. In other words, encryption is key.
The most important outcome of client portals is the fact that communication is vastly improved – so much so that clients can even access information and communicate with their lawyer via an app, like The Link App.
With client portals lawyers are in complete control over all their communications, without the need to prepare update emails or make update calls (although a call and an email keeping in touch with your client is always a good idea). Clients are kept completely up to date as to what is happening in their matter – as and when it happens. And this is all thanks to a type of messaging system on the app that updates immediately. Documents can also be shared with clients – on the go.
This will be especially useful when versions of contracts are going back and forth between parties and require urgent signature.
Client portals truly allow lawyers to work smarter, not harder. And that is, after all, the main aim of the game where legal tech is concerned.
In conveyancing legal departments, the fate of a transfer of a property is often at the mercy of municipalities and banks. It’s often out of the hands of the conveyancer who must deal with irate buyers and sellers who want the transfer of the property to go through as quickly as possible.
It’s a stressful situation for everyone concerned.
Conveyancers should be looking out for case management systems designed specifically for conveyancers, where they are able to automate manual processes, eliminate compliance errors and streamline the processing of bonds, cancellations and transfers.
With so many different parties involved (buyer, seller and estate agent), attorneys (transfer, bond and cancellation attorneys) and documents (power of attorney, rates clearance certificate, FICA documents and bond settlement figures – to name but a few) to deal with, conveyancers need a system that incorporate everything into one collated place – easy to find information, documents, updates and communications.
LexisNexis has a wide range of products specifically aimed at the conveyancing department. From Windeed which can help obtain property and ownership information to Lexis Covey that automates document assembly and the correspondence associated with mortgage bond registrations, consents and property transfer.
e4 (with offices around South Africa, Namibia, and Mauritius) also offer an extensive range of conveyancing software that can assist conveyancers with all their needs. Their product offerings include solutions for bonds, transfers and cancellations and includes a complete deeds office workflow solution. e4 can even assist attorneys when requesting figures and obtaining rate clearance certificates from Municipalities.
AJS is proud to say that our practice management solutions can be easily integrated with both LexisNexis and e4 software – ensuring that your practice management suite continues to work as one seamless system.
If you are based in the UK, Veya “offers instant analysis on Land Registry Title Deeds gives conveyancing firms the tools to save time, increase accuracy, and improve compliance”.
There are so many tools and apps available nowadays that promise to streamline your litigation, commercial and conveyancing department needs.
So many tools that promise to streamline a lawyers work, making them more productive and efficient. It’s difficult to know who to trust or what to incorporate.
Therefore, as always, we believe the important thing here is to always do your research. Ensure that the tool you are plugging into your practice (and possibly already existing practice management software) is really what you need, that it meets your requirements whilst also being easy to use.
It will also be vital to ensure that whatever new software you purchase can be easily incorporated into and work with your current practice management software – otherwise, what’s the point? The aim should be an effective and all-encompassing legal practice management system that covers all your bases, seamlessly collating all your different tools into one workable solution.
To further understand the litigation, commercial and conveyancing trends and tools or to find out how to incorporate a new tool into your existing practice management system, feel free to get in touch with AJS – we have the right combination of systems, resources and business partnerships to assist you with incorporating supportive legal technology into your practice. Effortlessly.
AJS is always here to help you, wherever and whenever possible!