Document Automation - breaking the bottleneck for in-house legal teams

By Graham Edwards

It's time to take the drudgery out of legal drafting

When you think about the workload of inhouse legal, one of the biggest drains on a lawyer’s time is drafting documents. Laboriously inputting deal specific data, substituting terms, inserting clauses and adjusting language in long agreements. Then checking it multiple times. Even with templates, manual drafting can involve many hours of work. This often leaves legal teams constantly fighting a lengthy backlog of contract requests.

Most lawyers nowadays are open to using automation technology to break the bottleneck caused by laborious drafting. The good news is there are plenty of solutions available to speed up contract turnaround. For most general counsels, the question is not whether to use technology to automate drafting, but instead understanding which platform will work best for their team.

The horror stories of digital transformation gone wrong are well documented. It’s common to find a LegalTech solution performs adequately for a straightforward contract, only to be derailed by anything remotely complex. The reality is choosing the wrong automation approach can end up with lawyers having to make substantial manual amendments to automated drafts. This significantly reduces the efficiency gain and increases risk.

First, consider contract complexity

Are constant, urgent requests for NDAs preventing a legal team from performing more strategic work? Or is it the sheer enormity and intricacy of documents that’s eating up a lawyer’s every working hour? When weighing up automation options, it’s crucial to look first at the volume and complexity of the drafting required.

When drafting a suite of interrelated documents is the sticking point, it’s important to select a drafting solution built to handle complexity. For example, legal documents in regulated industries, such as banking, will need deeper automation technology to generate sufficiently tailored and reliable output.

PwC has partnered with Clarilis where professional support lawyers work closely with PwC and the client to design, test, build and implement every solution. The result is highly customised, data-driven automation. Instead, when key data for a matter is input into a Clarilis user questionnaire, it populates a highly structured data model sitting behind the automation. As the transaction progresses, this data is used to generate not only the main contractual documents but also any letters and ancillaries. By re-using data multiple times all documentation connected to a complex matter is produced in a highly consistent and efficient way, with minimal, if any, manual drafting required.

Increasing capacity without compromising on quality

One of the biggest commercial incentives for clients looking to invest in automation technology is to vastly expand the deal capacity of a legal team, without compromising the quality of output. A standout feature of the Clarilis system isn’t just that it reduces the time to produce a first draft by 90%, it’s that it also captures and codifies best practice. This makes sure the automations are highly structured, heavily guided and always up to date, allowing drafting to be delegated without risk to junior lawyers and even business users outside of legal.

Finding the right automation fit

Inhouse legal teams are under pressure to cut costs and operate more efficiently. With digital transformation gathering pace, PwC clients are increasingly looking to automation technology as a way to relieve drafting bottlenecks without increasing headcount.

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