For the time being, let’s set aside the topic of AI advancements and lets talk about process maturity.
I have been providing advice on Legal Tech to law firms of all sizes for over twenty years and one thing that’s been consistent is the differing levels of maturity of processes within legal firms.
Its for this very reason law firm owners, leaders and management teams should consider the maturity of their processes before embracing new advancements in Artificial Intelligence.
If you don’t know, what process maturity is it refers to the level of effectiveness, efficiency and reliability of an organisations processes and procedures. It’s used to assess how well a business performs its tasks and achieves its objectives by testing the consistency and predictability of its processes and workflows.
Process maturity is measured on a scale often referred to as a maturity model. The levels range from low maturity (ad hoc and chaotic) to high maturity (well-defined and optimised).
Initial – Processes are unpredictable, poor controls and reactive.
Managed – Basic processes are in place to track and control any variations.
Defined – Processes well documented, standardised and proactive.
Quantitatively Managed – Processes are quantitatively controlled and continuously improved.
Optimising – Processes constantly refined and optimised to maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
You can use the above categories to assess where you currently stand in terms of process efficiency and effectiveness and importantly identify areas for improvement. This is also something I can help you with.
Higher levels of process maturity equal higher levels of performance (profit).
My advice for law firms with immature processes and workflows to first focus on evolving and optimising their existing processes before considering the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.
That’s not to say AI can’t be used in places but why run before you can walk…
My guide for getting the most out of your Legal Tech investments.
Assess Current Processes
Begin by analysing your current processes and workflows with the lowest process maturity. Identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas where improvements are needed. This may involve speaking with staff, creating or reviewing management information, evaluating existing ways of working and considering available technologies and tools.
Streamline and Standardise
Once you have a clear understanding of your current processes, work on streamlining and standardising them. Create well-documented procedures and ensure that everyone in the firm understands and follows these procedures consistently. This may involve implementing a training plan, new software and even Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Before diving into AI solutions, make sure you have basic technology infrastructure in place. This includes practice management software, document management systems, and other essential tools. Ensure that your existing technology is being utilised to its fullest potential.
Training and Education
Invest in training and education for your staff to ensure they are proficient in using the existing technology and following the optimised processes.
Once you’ve streamlined processes and enhanced staff capabilities, consider piloting smaller AI projects. These could include AI-driven document review, contract analysis, or legal research tools. These initial projects will help you gauge the impact of AI on your firm’s efficiency and productivity.
Continuously monitor the impact of AI solutions and iterate on your processes as needed. Solicit feedback from your staff to identify areas where AI can further enhance productivity and quality of service.
Security and Compliance
As your firm grows and matures, you can gradually expand your use of AI solutions to address more complex tasks or areas of practice.
Regularly assess the cost-effectiveness of AI solutions by comparing the time and resources saved against the cost of implementation and maintenance.
It’s important to note that AI should not be viewed as a one-size-fits-all solution. Its effectiveness in a law firm depends on the specific needs, practice areas, and scale of the firm. Therefore, taking a phased approach that begins with process optimisation and gradually integrates AI is often the most practical and effective way to harness the benefits of AI in the legal field while ensuring that it aligns with the firm’s overall goals and capabilities.