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Document automation

Automating legal document management – UK law firm, DWF shares their integration experience

Image Credit: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Understanding the benefits of and possibilities with document automation is a great starting point, but use cases really put this knowledge into context. In the final episode of our Document Automation Webinar Series, we asked the law firm DWF Law LLP about their experiences integrating document automation into the HighQ platform via Contract Express. Their real-world examples show the steps that await firms as they venture through their automation journey.

The basics of document automation for day-to-day operations

Firms like DWF—a leading global provider of integrated legal and business services—have invested significant time and effort exploring what’s possible with technology and pushing the boundaries of document automation. But not before they demonstrated value with the basics. That is, the day-to-day operations.

Once the basics are established, innovation kicks in. Firms start asking what else is possible and how they can unify the best of their capabilities. Ideas involving the people who use the technology and address the problems they genuinely face are the ones that experience technology breakthroughs. “It’s matching people’s ideas to the right technology tools and platforms”, said Jonathan Patterson, Managing Director of DWF Ventures.

If it’s viable, the focus turns to figuring out how to actually implement the solution. That’s the focus of legal technologists like DWF Ventures. Often, the solution involves expanding the use of existing systems and toolboxes. “One of our big aims is to really try and get the most out of the technologies we do have rather than going out and just buying lots of shiny tools”, added Laura Sanders, legal technology manager, managed services at DWF Law.

Instead of competing platforms, firms are turning toward more collaboration and integration, allowing different tools to play to their strengths and complement other systems rather than creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution.

Integrating a legal document management solution with existing tools

This move away from point solutions and, instead, enabling systems to ‘talk’ to each other is what many firms are now seeking. “It’s not enough to have a product nowadays that does something very well”, said Anna Turner, Director of Software Solutions at Thomson Reuters. “It needs to also play nicely with other tools that a firm might want to use.”

For example, an asset management platform stores a lot of data that may also be relevant to documents that a firm produces through automation. However, lawyers still have to re-enter the data because systems are not integrated. Thomson Reuters is now working with DWF to experiment with better end-to-end integration with HighQ, looking at things like out-of-the-box connections and application programming interface improvements.

“Our strategy is to utilise the tech that we do have to its fullest extent”, said Sanders. This goal responds to firms’ ambitions to find ways to streamline services. With more interoperability, a contract can be drafted, negotiated, signed, and securely stored in a single process.

Lessons learned from DWF’s document automation experience

Many firms have probably experienced instances when a technology implementation did not work out and became mistrustful. But that’s not a reason to avoid it. “Sometimes, it’s just starting with what is the problem rather than what is the solution”, said Sanders.

Also, embracing new technology is critical to staying competitive. More firms are on this path, and now, clients expect it.

“The simplest and easiest route you can give people, making it intuitive and ensuring they don’t have to do multiple things, the better adoption will be.” –– Jonathan Patterson

No matter what stage you are in the process of automation, here’s some guidance to ensure you’re on the path to success:

  • Think about the users, their pain points, ideas, and what use cases will help them reach their goal
  • Prepare for deployment, implementation, and after support, ensuring you have the right design, training, and dedicated team to get you from development to managed services
  • Measure the outcomes of your automation ideas against business objectives and performance

By making platforms, tools, and models flexible, firms can better manage and respond to new legal trends. At the end of the day, that’s who it is all about. Firms make a product what it is. So, it’s critical to listen to the user.

Learn more on how to automate your legal documents.

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