Clarilis' Implementation Director, Emma Fear, identifies the foundations of a successful automation project.
As Implementation Director at Clarilis, I’m often asked about the automation process, what it involves, what state the documents need to be in and significantly, how much involvement is required by our law firm clients. These questions all underpin the most important question – how can we ensure our automation project is successful?
My answer always centres around the people – processes – technology framework. All of these elements play an important role in an automation project and it is the careful combination of all three that leads to success.
The Clarilis managed service team includes a large team of PSLs, who were all previously senior solicitors in private practice or in-house legal teams. Their experience covers a range of practice areas including corporate, finance, banking and real estate. The PSLs are supported by document analysts and technical automation specialists who are all experts in logic, questionnaire design and optimising automation projects.
Robust processes are key to a successful automation project – from the selection of the right precedents to automate, through to implementation of the automation and subsequent integration into your fee earners’ practice. If those processes are discussed ‘lawyer-to-lawyer’ before the tech plays a part, this makes a wealth of difference when delivering complex automated document suites.
Our processes are a direct result of this experience. Think of it as ‘best practice’. We don’t just license the technology and leave you to it – it is a collaborative and consultative approach – and we work with you to advise on the right approach from defining scope and preparation through to development, implementation, and beyond. We then combine this experience with the best LegalTech platform for complex matter automation to create your Clarilis solution.
If you have not worked with us before, here are answers to some of the questions I often get asked.
Richard Gaston – Head of Knowledge, Addleshaw Goddard
Sophie Brookes – Partner, Gateley Legal
There is no requirement for the precedents destined for automation to be ‘perfect’ or ‘signed-off’. As a general guide, if the relevant precedents are being used by your fee earners on live matters, then they are suitable for automation.
The Clarilis process simply involves giving your dedicated Clarilis PSL the precedents that have been selected for automation, together with any relevant riders and drafting notes. The experienced team of Clarilis PSLs and Document Analysts will then carry out a very detailed review of the precedents in order to create the Questionnaire and prepare them for automation. As part of that process they may seek clarification on certain aspects of the drafting or to better understand your preferred approach. Part of the review involves ensuring all your precedents conform to your house style. The Clarilis team may also, where appropriate, merge multiple versions of your precedents for you, in order ensure consistency across the suite.
Our clients tell us that the review and harmonisation process provided by our PSLs and Document Analysts is a really valuable aspect to our service that adds a great deal of value before the automation is even launched. We also understand that when the automation is rolled out, you only have one chance to make a first impression on the fee earners using the automation so you want the highest possible quality first draft to be produced.
Emma Jackson – Client Innovation Manager, Mills & Reeve
Ongoing maintenance of the automations is often overlooked but this is key to a successful project as precedents do not stand still. Think about who is going to be doing the maintenance. You need a plan in place so that users do not revert back to their old ways, which defeats the object!
Our built-in feedback function provides fee earners with an easy way to send their feedback to your precedent owner – not just on the precedents themselves but also the automation. This in turn enables the precedents to be continually improved upon and the automation to remain current.
Post-launch amendments are all included within the Clarilis licence at no extra cost; simply send a mark-up of the relevant document and we make the relevant changes.
Having been involved in managing automation projects for several years now, as well has having used the automation in practice, I believe the above points are paramount, particularly when considering more complex automation projects.
But I would have to say that I think the overriding success factor in any automation project is the quality of the tech platform, combined with the experience and communication skills of the professional support lawyers involved. These elements are not mutually exclusive!
The tech platform and managed service that Clarilis offer is incredibly important to our clients. I say this based on experience when I hear about firms who consider ‘building this themselves’ – you need great tech to underpin the legal experience involved. You may have great legal brains and infinite resource but you need the Clarilis tech platform to underpin everything. The need for good communication is also paramount – the better we understand your needs, as well as your precedents, the better we can translate them into the automation. Our clients appreciate this too, at all stages of their relationship with Clarilis.