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Saving seconds a day can increase your billable productivity

How law firms are perceived has changed markedly in recent years, at least from a client’s perspective

Article published in the Raconteur© on Oct 10, 2019.

Law firms are no longer viewed as an oak-paneled profession failing to move with the times; they are now seen as a progressive, dynamic and focused solution to a myriad of corporate issues. And they are not the only ones to be included in this perception.

Legal services providers are on the rise with a mix of boutique and large divisional operations, provided by the large consultancy firms that are now tooling up with legal expertise. These providers have utilized technology along with data-driven insights to reduce the cost of traditional labor-intensive tasks.

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77.2% of legal professionals say they're overwhelmed by information


Clients are also reducing their reliance on a conventional panel of firms and buying in services from non-traditional providers in the marketplace, and in-house teams are making a resurgence. The market for the more transactional elements of law has been blown wide open, but there is still a place for industry and multi-jurisdictional expertise from firms.

Nevertheless, this new breed of legal services providers have left all but the most forward-thinking firms with a problem: how can we grow market share along with revenue and margin in this landscape?

Xerox printers can be turned into workplace assistants, thanks to a collection of apps designed for legal professionals, allowing fee earners to concentrate on valuable services. This question is attracting increased focus as the competitive environment is shifting. Business models are changing and technology is influencing the way services are even procured. There is plenty to grapple with for large and small firms alike, not to mention the true impact of Brexit revealing itself over time.

Technology is now enabling companies to assess and rethink their daily tasks, even as longer-term, market-driven strategies are prepared and enacted. These are areas where gains in efficiency can pave the way for margin growth, even if revenues struggle to grow.

Information and document management is one of these areas and is seen as the main task to be impacted by the application of new technology over the next five to ten years.

“From where we stand now, there is a great deal of buzz around artificial intelligence, natural language processing and blockchain solutions. These technologies, even in their infancy, are already being used in providing information and document management services for law firms,” explains Nick Marfleet, legal sector business development director at Xerox UK, a technology leader focused on the intersection of digital and physical.

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5.6 hours of billable work are missed out every day by small law firms


Mr. Marfleet believes these tools are most valuable in the transactional side of legal work. Freeing up the time of fee earners has a significant impact on revenue, as they can then focus on higher-value tasks. The potential for technology to improve how routine operations are undertaken in law firms is significant, from client onboarding and conflict searches to contract drafting, document review and due diligence to client communication.

“We go through several assessments with our clients, which reveals insight into how firms are moving information around their business. This provides the opportunity for them to identify processes that can benefit from technology, which can be as simple as one less click or adding advanced workflows with robotic process automation and mobility features. It’s about understanding how they do the work at the moment and where the bottlenecks and the labor-intensive processes are,” says Mr. Marfleet. This results in higher efficiency for their clients, allowing firms to stop worrying about the “how” of operations and enables them to concentrate more on the “why”.

Xerox has been working in this space for many years, building up a wealth of expertise across the legal sector. With Xerox® ConnectKey® Technology, Xerox can apply its expertise and provide simple and effective solutions for clients using Xerox multifunctional printers. Incremental transformation is then achievable with Xerox apps, integrated with the platforms clients use daily.

Examples of daily tasks that detract from core business focus include dealing with basic and recurrent issues related to paper files, such as scanning and printing. This process can account for up to 3.5 hours a week for a user, which is non-billable.

“We have created apps to remove unnecessary steps from the process to alleviate the interruption these tasks cause. These apps can be downloaded from the Xerox® App Gallery so Xerox printers can be customized like smartphones. Working with iManage or  direct from your Xerox-enabled device removes the laborious and time-intensive steps when scanning a document to, or printing a document from, iManage or Clio,” says Benjamin Duthu, sector marketing director at Xerox.

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446.5m consumer records containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) were exposed last year

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Time is tight when closing a deal, and frequently parties are scattered across the globe. Obtaining all the signatures can provide a logistical challenge with lengthy delays. With Xerox’s integration with an existing DocuSign platform, signature pages and workflows can be collated and triggered directly from a Xerox-enabled device.

Sharing documents with different parties can present challenges and redaction is the tool of choice to protect sensitive and General Data Protection Regulation-related content. There are already solutions in play for digitally native files. However, the real challenge arises when there is only a hard copy, and there is a need to redact. Xerox has teamed up with GoogleAI to provide an app that applies redaction to a scanned document. This document can be emailed, safe in the knowledge that only the recipient can see what they are meant to see.

“Xerox printers can be turned into workplace assistants, thanks to a collection of apps designed for legal professionals, allowing fee earners to concentrate on valuable services,” Mr. Duthu concludes.

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