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How Legal Teams Can Make the Most Out of AI Solutions

Rebecca YoderAs companies look to automate more processes to keep pace with rising consumer demands, artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer some far flung technology being used solely by tech giants. In fact, AI is exiting uncharted territory and entering the mainstream of the enterprise — allowing companies to introduce smarter processes without disrupting workflows. 

Take legal teams for example, which handle a variety of routine, administrative tasks like document editing and routing. According to a report by SpringCM, legal is the primary department that handles contracts for 59 percent of businesses.

Automated solutions can easily replace these time-consuming and repetitive tasks, freeing up legal professionals to dedicate to more time to strategic projects or take on additional clients. 

In addition to increased efficiency, AI can prevent security breaches or lapses in accuracy. The same SpringCM report found 34 percent of organizations rely on email as their main tool for sharing contracts. When workers are passing sensitive documents like contracts back-and-forth via email, it’s easy for a confidential file to fall into the wrong hands or for employees to be confused about who owns the most recent version.

But as it is with the adoption of any new technology, implementing AI solutions can end up costing more — not saving — money if not executed correctly. By recognizing the following do’s and don’ts associated with adopting AI, legal teams can transform how they function day-to-day without stalling operations. 

Don’t go all in at once. Do commit to a timeline with realistic goals.

With promises of increased efficiency and productivity, many business leaders have high expectations for the transformative experience AI can offer, leading them to make large-scale changes abruptly. But assuming newly adopted technology will solve business challenges before validating its success on a small scale can create even bigger pain points down the road.  

To ensure legal teams achieve the intended outcomes, leaders need to start the implementation process by building a cohesive plan that clearly articulates measurable objectives plotted on a timeline. They should establish criteria for success in small, attainable goals, like the percent teams will increase routing speed. By setting up an agile timeline that allows teams to make unforeseen accomodations along the way, legal teams can track the results of implementation and adjust their plan as needed. 

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Don’t go it alone. Do find the right partner.

Even with the right budget and plan in place, legal teams might not receive the return on their investment if the AI solutions aren’t deployed by workers with the right expertise. Many businesses pass their digital transformation projects to IT departments, assuming they have the skills needed to develop and manage all technologies. However, not all businesses have an IT department equipped to take on AI projects, which take a particular skill set to build from scratch. 

Instead of risking implementation by relying on existing teams, legal companies should find a partner that can help them navigate the process. By identifying experts with a longstanding history of successful AI deployment, legal teams can ensure they’re not going down the wrong path or missing faults in the system that will delay results. A partner can also train members of the legal or IT team on how to use the technology, so they can maintain and improve the system to optimize its value. 

Don’t leave employees in the dark. Do communicate early and often.

Many employees fear the idea of procedural changes, especially when an unfamiliar technology is involved like AI. It’s the responsibility of business leaders to make sure their workers are comfortable with new solutions. This task can be easier said than done, considering most companies manage a variety of employees working in different capacities. Legal teams, for example, have many different roles, such as lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries, record clerks and bookkeepers, so introducing change might be perceived positively by some at the company and negatively by others. 

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To prevent workers from resisting new technology, leadership should include them in the decision-making process. Surveying everyone in the legal team to find out what challenges they face before implementation allows business leaders to identify the common problems their workers experience, while ensuring everyone has a voice. By including members of the legal team who will be using the new solutions on a daily basis in early conversations, businesses avoid implementing software that doesn’t guarantee the intended results. 

Additionally, legal teams need to have a strong understanding of the value automation can have in their day-to-day tasks. Business leaders should communicate the benefits of AI tools, like how automated contract management can remove frustrations of tracking down the right version of a file, and explain to employees that the technology is not meant to replace the work they do, but help them do it better.

Keeping these common mistakes in mind when implementing AI solutions, legal teams can transform how they conduct business. Automation has the power to eliminate pain points and help businesses achieve their goals faster, but it requires a careful implementation plan and total team involvement to see the return on investment. 

Rebecca Yoder is Global Partners Solutions Director at SpringCM, a DocuSign company, where she focuses on client solutions, industry impact and market development. Prior to SpringCM, Rebecca worked for Accenture for over 20 years as a member of the Legal organization. There, she was responsible for technology deployed to Accenture's Legal Professionals, as well as technology solutions deployed across the Accenture enterprise on behalf of Legal.
 

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