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RPA: We are the robots. We are here to help (your law practice)

Technology for Lawyers

Published: July 26, 2019

Robots. Coming for you or coming to help?

The word robot actually means “servitude” or “slave” in Old Church Slavanic. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the term that describes automated processes that increase the efficiency of the enterprise. For attorneys, that would take the form of scheduling, billing, word processing templates, possibly filing, and so forth.

It is a robotic revolution, and it is already here. Adjust or be left behind.

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, 2. through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

3. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Modern legal tech now can add an addendum/caveat/ fourth law of robotics to all that: robots are cool if they can help your law practice (not cool if the help with election interference). And not just a Roomba—many standard legal tasks can now be automated, leaving lawyers to the real tasks of drumming up business.

There are three types of RPAs:

--rules-based processes that mimic human actions and are applied to repetitive functions;

--cognitive automation (machine learning algorithms), which in the law has its greatest applications in e-discovery where it can extract information and find meaning in scattered data throughout multiple documents; and

--artificial intelligence, which augments human ability to understand data in context and may make predictive conclusions.

The ABA Journal has a nice overview of the practical applications of bots to law practice. For instance, RPA billing could save 50 percent of labor costs associated with generating bills by just culling the necessary info from the firm’s matter management system. Paying invoices could likewise be robotified by automating the capture of invoice information into a standard format, which could then be used to simplify that pro9cess.

AI can be applied to assessing the risks of taking on a new client and conflicts. Client data can be cross-populated throughout the enterprise automatically. And so on.

The possibilities are endless. The robots are coming, they are actually here, and they can help. If you want them to. Check out the ABA article here: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_practice/publications/law_practice_magazine/2019/JA2019/JA19PerySimon/.