Legal Workflow Automation Explained: Examples, Benefits, and Solutions

legal workflow automation

We outline what legal workflow automation is, and how teams are using it to move faster, adapt to increasing workload, minimize risk, and meet the needs of the business.

The legal department’s importance in the workplace has increased rapidly over the past few years. Legal can no longer function as a separate, advising component of the business, reacting primarily when legal concerns emerge. Instead, legal is increasingly expected to be a strategic partner to the entire company, driving value, realizing returns on investments, and adding business value, just like any other department.

To adapt to the evolving role of the legal team in a business, legal workflow automation can be utilized to save time, save money, reduce risk, and provide better services to the business.

And as EY Law reported, General Counsel expect workloads to increase by 25% between 2021 and 2024, yet headcounts are only expected to increase by 3% over the same period. Legal workflow automation can help close that gap and increase employee satisfaction within the legal team and among their clients in the rest of the business.

So in this article, we’ll define what legal workflow automation is, the top ways legal teams are benefitting from it, and some of the top examples. We’ll also answer some of the most-asked questions about legal workflow automation.

Legal workflow automation is the automation and optimization of the legal team’s workflows to maximize efficiency, eliminate errors, and provide more value to the business.

Given the volume of manual work for in-house legal teams, legal workflow automation helps take care of low-complexity, repetitive tasks that simply need to be done, but don’t require manual expert intervention. This can include anything from legal intake and triage to collecting information and automatically generating common contracts like NDAs and employment agreements.

Legal workflow automation is built on conditional logic defined directly by the legal team with no coding or IT support involved. This way, the legal experts can set the criteria used to automatically risk-assess vendors, provide guidance to employees in accordance with a company policy, and many other tasks that previously required manual intervention from someone on the legal team.

Through legal workflow automation, teams can put in place fully automated processes that get the otherwise-manual work done, with minimum day-to-day input from legal professionals.

As a result, legal teams have more capacity to focus on the more strategic, higher-complexity work.

Workflow automation allows legal departments to better serve the business, work faster and more efficiently, and become data-driven in their decision-making.

First, by automating repetitive legal workflows, teams increase efficiency across other business units. For instance, by automating the invoicing procedure, in-house counsel have more time to focus on other strategic tasks that have a high impact, but can’t be automated. And so workflow automation helps in particular with legal workflows that need to be done, but are time-consuming, repetitive, prone to errors, and put a drag on employee morale.

Second, this efficiency gained through workflow automation bolsters the productivity of legal teams. More work gets done now that your team has time to work on non-repetitive, high-impact tasks.

Third, this boosts employee job satisfaction and leads to innovation. As the mindset around automation and legal tech changes, your team starts to identify other processes that can be automated. In time, legal departments start moving from executing, to planning and strategizing business workflows, becoming a central driver of innovation in the company.

Here are the top six ways that legal workflow automation improves efficiently not only for legal teams, but for the whole company.

1. Better engagement between legal and the rest of the company

Legal workflow automation broadens the reach of legal departments, allowing knowledge to be shared effectively and expertise silos to be avoided.

Legal tech tools make crucial guidance and information easily accessible to the entire business, on-demand whenever it’s needed, regardless of if the legal department is available at a given time.

Gabriel Bärenz, Senior Legal Counsel for ING, describes how the legal workflows built in BRYTER help them to find the right information as swiftly as possible across the organization:

“BRYTER helps us to design our processes as transparent and seamless as possible, making information more accessible and enabling people to find the information they need, when they need it. This saves our time, our commercial colleagues’ time, and means we can provide a faster, better service.”

Gabriel Bärenz, Senior Legal Counsel for ING

2. Proactively manage and minimize risk

The legal team needs to frequently assess risks, and ensure the organization’s security, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to embrace wide-scale change. However, with the demand for more efficiency and more flexible services, more teams are adopting automation solutions as an effective way to respond to these changes and meet the demands of the business.

Survey: Only 5 percent of General Counsel are very confident in their department's ability to manage complex legal risks.
In-house counsel are increasingly turning to legal automation solutions to better manage risk within the business.

With workflow automation tools, including document automation, NDA generators, and employment contract generators, businesses can automatically draft their own legal agreements in line with best practices and company policies. The creation of built-in safeguards can be utilized to promote risk mitigation, ensuring important provisions are never left out and awareness of current best practices and compliance.

Other common automated legal workflows used to minimize risk include vendor risk assessment, data breach risk assessment, and general contract risk assessment.

3. Tailor solutions to your company

With an intuitive no-code automation platform, the legal team can build their own digital legal tools quickly and simply without programming knowledge — and at a fraction of the cost.

GEA’s legal team has launched over 20 digital apps covering corporate legal issues, corporate housekeeping, compliance, data protection, and contracts since discovering BRYTER’s legal workflow automation capabilities.

They used BRYTER to build an NDA generator, that gives their business colleagues the possibility to produce NDA drafts as a self-service.

Stefan Wilke, Legal Counsel at GEA’s Group Legal Department, the impact that legal automation with BRYTER has had on the business:

“We can build applications ourselves, as lawyers. We do not need to reach out to the IT team or spend hours internally on a lengthy procurement process to instruct an external service provider every time we want to build an application. We can just get on with it and build ourselves. Whenever we have an idea, we can immediately start turning that idea into an application.”

Stefan Wilke, Legal Counsel at GEA’s Group Legal Department

4. Make accurate decisions

Users can rapidly manage the complete life cycle of a contract by automating legal workflows, from creation to review to approval and execution. All of the processes necessary for contract administration are in one location, making it simple for paralegals, general counsel, and chief financial officers to make accurate decisions quickly.

BRYTER’s powerful logic engine allows users to model and visualize complex decisioning involved with legal and regulatory advice. This increases capacity and transforms manual decision-making processes into actionable digital solutions which are accessible 24/7.

5. Focus on the highest-value work

Legal workflow automation allows the legal team (and those that interact with them) to focus on high-value work, which means saving time, and therefore saving money while increasing employee satisfaction.

The goal of legal workflow automation software is to make processes run more smoothly. And by automating repetitive processes, employees can spend more time on important, high-value tasks. For example, replacing manual drafting workflows with a standard contractual clauses generator increases the pace at which your company can conclude data transfers and process data for business operations.

Workflow automation systems help with a variety of administrative issues that sap productivity, and guarantee that all jobs are done swiftly, no matter their size.

6. Cost savings

A 2021 survey by EY Law found that General Counsels found more effective use of technology to be the number one opportunity for cost savings.

Survey: General Counsel see legal workflow automation technology as the best opportunity for cost savings.
Technology presents the best opportunity for in-house legal to optimize their budgets, EY Law found.

Legal workflow automation technology saves money by increasing the capacity of the existing team. It also helps to engage the rest of the business and proactively eliminate risks that can lead to lengthy, costly legal issues before they arise.

Effective legal automation can also help in-house teams to save money spent on external counsel.

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Top examples of legal workflow automation

Here are some of the most common and most effective examples of legal workflow automation in use today:

  • Legal intake tool: The Legal Intake Management Tool is a “legal front door” where automated, efficient intake and self-service tools enable legal departments to deliver agile legal services.
  • NDA generator: The NDA Generator lets companies draft NDAs in a fast, transparent, and compliant manner by replacing MS Word-based processes and allowing users to self-serve.
  • Data breach reporting: This workflow allows the team to generate data breach reports effortlessly. Our tool helps to navigate and document data breaches in a fast, transparent, and compliant way.
  • ESG reporting: The ESG Report Generator creates an ESG report based on the centralized performance data collected in native databases.
  • Employment contract generator: Instantly draft employment agreements of any kind, in line with internal best practices and regulatory standards. Then have those contracts distributed, executed, and stored securely.
  • Hospitality and gift compliance: Better than a static policy doc, the interactive corporate compliance advisor helps employees easily navigate through the company’s policies on gifts and hospitality.

If you’re wondering how to determine the best place to start with legal automation at your company, take a look at this article from our Head of Business Consulting: How Legal Teams Determine What They Can (and Can’t) Automate.

Real examples of legal workflow automation in action

Here are some real stories of companies that have adopted workflow automation within their legal and compliance department, including the impact it has had on their organization:

  • TD SYNNEX saved 95% of the time previously spent on manual work.
  • ING Banking Group used BRYTER to save time, improve their operations, and facilitate better collaboration with the rest of the business.
  • Telefónica automated the way they deliver legal advice to the rest of the business, to do so faster and on-demand.

According to Gartner, by 2025, legal departments will increase their spend on legal technology threefold. So how do you make the most of your legal tech investments?

There are several key features that are a must-have if you want to be successful with workflow automation in the legal department:

  • Integration with your existing tools: You should be able to make the most of your existing investments, and seamlessly integrate them with a workflow automation solution. For example: Pull content from Sharepoint, generate contracts in Word, make them available on DocuSign, and more.
  • A library of pre-built, customizable workflows: You shouldn’t need to start from scratch. Your solution should have a pre-built library of templates and common legal workflows that you can easily customize to your company’s unique processes.
  • Intelligent document automation: The deliverables at the end of a workflow are key to making the most of your tech investment. For the legal department, that often means documents. A good solution can automatically create custom, compliant documents, and deliver them right to your requestors in the business.
  • A proven track record and excellent customer support: Look for a solution that has worked with top companies before and has well-reviewed customer support that can help you not only with the technical use of software, but the strategy needed to make you successful.

Talk to one of our automation experts to see if the BRYTER no-code automation platform is the right fit for your organization.

What is legal workflow automation?

Legal workflow automation refers to the digital optimization of legal workflows to help legal provide faster, more efficient, error-free services to the business.

What is an example of legal workflow automation?

Top examples of legal workflow automation include digital intake and triage, contract automation, automated data breach reporting, and legal guidance and decision automation.

What legal workflows are best to automate?

The most valuable legal workflows to automate are those with low complexity and a high frequency. Learn more in our article on determining which legal workflows to automate.

How do I get started with legal workflow automation?

Many of our users start by thinking about which tasks have low complexity and low value, but take up too much of their time, and start with automating those. For help figuring out where you can get started with legal automation, book a demo and ideation session with one of our experts.

In-house legal is moving from advising to driving the business, and there’s more workload, responsibility, and attention on the legal team. Hopefully, now you have a clear idea of the role workflow automation can play in helping legal teams meet that demand, and you’re eager to get started.

If you’re looking to learn more and get personalized advice, set up an ideation session with a legal automation expert. We’ll help figure out the best approach for your company, and determine if BRYTER is a good fit for you.

Or take the self-guided approach and jump right in with a free trial.

Book a personalized demo