Business Process Automation: Key to Risk Mitigation in Law Firms
In many vertical industries, efficiency is the key value proposition of business process automation (BPM). But in law firms, risk mitigation may be a bigger selling point—codifying mission-critical processes so every knowledge worker across the firm follows correct procedure, thus ensuring compliance with both internal and external regulations.
One subset of the greater process automation movement is document generation, a technology which enables a firm to transform complex, rule-based documents into process applications. Process applications built on HotDocs gather all the information necessary to generate a document or set of documents using a highly structured approach called an interview.
A HotDocs interview enforces compliance by presenting the questions necessary to generate a document (or documents) in a structured sequence, imposing range validation and utilizing field-specific help resources. Answers for an interview can come from multiple data sources or can be manually keyed in. Once an interview is complete, generating the documents is push-button easy. Once generated, the documents can be profiled into a document management system or routed through a workflow for stage approval.
To date, 80% of the Am Law 200, not to mention thousands of small-to-medium-sized law firms and corporate legal departments, use HotDocs document generation software across a wide range of practice areas. HotDocs process apps might be used to generate simple documents having just a few variables or highly complex documents having hundreds of variables, complex business logic controlling the inclusion/exclusion of language blocks, and sophisticated signature blocks, requiring nested, repeating business logic.
One Am Law firm having 470 lawyers across multiple locations in North America utilizes HotDocs process applications across dozens of practice areas, including estate planning, public finance, and real estate law. This firm’s Wealth Management department is responsible for producing sophisticated estate planning documents for high-net-worth individuals with complex financial situations. With the firm’s old manual process, generating such documents was difficult and time-consuming, often taking the firm’s word processing department a full day for a single transaction. In addition to the time involved, the manual process was prone to human error, which left the firm in a high-risk situation. To mitigate the risk, the firm imposed order by automating the document generation process. The firm reports that HotDocs process apps generate documents much faster and do so with much greater accuracy than the old method, which results in less risk.
Document generation is as critical in corporate legal departments as it is in law partnerships. One international bank has integrated HotDocs into a sophisticated loan origination workflow that leads relationship managers through the complex data-gathering interview for its commercial lending business. The workflow cuts days off the process, enables the loan committee to quickly review data sets—rather than wade through lengthy, written explanations by relationship managers—and enforces compliance to internal and external regulations in thousands of branch offices around the globe. Compliance is, of course, the key to risk mitigation.
Of course, these cases are just samples. To learn more about how HotDocs can help your law firm or legal department, give us a call.