How to maximise your billing strategy with document automation

Lawyer efficiency is all the more important today as clients demand better return

How to maximise your billing strategy with document automation

This article was produced in partnership with LexisNexis.

Jacqueline So of NZ Lawyer sat down with LexisNexis Pacific Head of Core Product Lindsay O’Connor to discuss how a document drafting tool like Lexis Create helps law firms to maximise their billing strategies.

As a former legal practitioner working in transactional law, Lindsay O’Connor knows what it’s like to have menial, repetitive tasks like drafting take away from actually practising law.

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“A lot of my time used to get written off at the end of every month when we came to billing the clients. If you've wasted a whole heap of time switching between programs or doing research, a lot of that work actually can't be passed on to the client at the end of the day,” she explains. “So you find that although you might have spent 20 hours working on a matter, you might only be able to bill the client for 10 of those hours, which means you've got a whole lot of written-off hours for a whole lot of wastage.”

Lawyer efficiency is all the more important today as clients are demand more output and return than in previous years, whether firms are sticking to the traditional billable hour model or going for the fixed fee structure.

“It becomes quite easy [under a fixed fee model] to see what the benefits of increased efficiency are, because clearly the less time it takes you to deliver an end piece of work, then the more profitable you're going to be,” O’Connor says. “If you've got 10 clients that you've agreed to do fixed fee work for and you reduce the time, you can just take on more clients and deliver more.”

However, especially on the part of junior lawyers, much of their time and effort goes towards putting documents together, which can mean not enough time is spent on engaging clients. Thus, O’Connor worked with LexisNexis’ UK business to bring the Microsoft Word-based document automation platform Lexis Create to New Zealand, recognising the platform’s potential to assist lawyers in streamlining the document drafting process.

“If [firms] are not spending as long looking at their documents, we're actually freeing up lawyers to really practice law. So, what they can actually do is really focus on providing advice to their clients outside the confines of just delivering a document to them,” she explains.

The efficiency generated from such time-saving tech is especially beneficial to small-medium law firms, which can then meet more of clients’ needs.

“Lawyers can really start to partner with their clients and give them more kind of holistic advice about their business as a whole. A client might come to their lawyer with a specific legal issue, but the lawyer would now have more time to talk with the client about what that client wants to achieve more generally, whether they can help them with more strategic matters, or whether there are other issues they're facing,” O’Connor adds.

“They can start to have a bigger conversation and actually maybe pick up more business. In the legal world, a lot of business is repeat business, particularly if you're looking at commercial or business law. If you're keeping those clients happy by doing really great quality work for them, there's a much higher likelihood they're going to instruct you in future matters.”

On the part of large law firms, Lexis Create’s proofreading functions facilitate quality output, which is key especially when clients are paying top dollar.

“People pay their lawyers a lot of money for legal advice. They are expecting exact precision; they I think have a very low tolerance when paying a high bill for a lack of quality and for any areas of error,” O’Connor explains. “A lot of lawyers have horror stories about where they've sent a draft out and it's had the wrong information in there. And it could actually be missing something – a point of law or an opportunity to improve their documents. Which then basically means that often, the other side in the negotiation could have the upper hand.”

Document drafting may be a learned skill, but by taking advantage of improvements in tech, young lawyers can get up to speed quickly, saving partners and decision makers time that would otherwise have been spent correcting drafts.

Click here to receive your Free Trial of Lexis Create to gain back more time to do what matters most to you.

Lindsay O’Connor is the Head of Core Product for the Pacific region at LexisNexis. Lindsay studied at the College of Law in London, qualifying as a Solicitor in 2006. Having held several roles in the Legal Technology industry, Lindsay has extensive experience in driving customer-focused development across large product teams.  As a former lawyer, Lindsay is passionate about developing products that enable lawyers to work more efficiently; in particular, looking at the ability to deliver LexisNexis content at the point of need directly into a lawyer’s workflow.

Lexis Create is the result of a global collaboration between the UK, the Pacific and China. It is an excellent example of a product that will drive real efficiencies in drafting and collaboration across teams, by avoiding the need for context switching.

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