I was at a dinner recently where I heard two senior IT managers from two international law firms wax about how they have monetised their legal technology. They turned their spend into an income. How?
Both firms, which will be known to anyone in the legal industry, used document automation technology. They used different automation solutions, both of which will also be well known to anyone in the industry. Often seen as expensive for what it does, both of these firms saw an opportunity to cash in, by allowing their clients to use the automation technology. Interestingly, both also deployed the automation in their real estate departments, where clients with large property portfolios could really benefit from automation because they use the same documents repeatedly.
These firms already had precedent documents for their clients. All they had to do was automate their production and allow their client access to their chosen automation software. Their clients then pay a monthly fee to use the law firm’s technology.
What’s not to like about that arrangement? Very little according to these two firms. Yes, they had some up-front work to do, but that was a one off. If it works, the process has massive upside.
These advantages to the firm were immediately apparent:
Scale – the process could be repeated for other documents and other clients;
Cash flow – after precedent creation and automation coding, there’s no additional work for the recurring monthly fee;
Free resource – associates that would typically prepare these now automated documents were free up to do other work; and
Lock-in – a client with access to instant documents, backed by the expertise of a respected international firm, has another reason to remain as a client.
The clients also saw some significant advantages:
Speed – the documents are available immediately rather than waiting for the firm to draft them, and they can be prepared anytime of day or night, and on weekends;
Cost certainty – the client knows it can have as many documents of a specified type for a fixed cost;
Quality – assuming the automation coding is correct the documents are free from drafting errors every time.
It’s clear that a significant part of the value of the technology is not only how much time it can save, but how much revenue it can generate. It’s not uncommon for legal technology to be assessed on how much time a lawyer can save using it, or to put it another way, how much more work a lawyer can do in the same time. But there seems to be less consideration given to whether law firms can open their technology offerings directly to their clients and charge them for it.
What can you do?
Document automation is one way to automate your work and offer your clients ‘more for less’. If you’re yet to start on that journey you might consider what options are available to you. Start with the freebies!
In episode 9 of Panachecast we demonstrated how, with one line of code, you can turn your FAQ page into an interactive bot, absolutely free. This is only the first phase of automation. The next steps might be to automate your conflict checks, or to apply similar automation techniques to the drafting of documents.
You don’t have to spend a lot to generate the income.
Contact Panache Legal to discover how to monetise your legal technology.