What is Robotic Process Automation and how can it help law firms?
By Mark Pearce
Robotic Process Automation (RPA), sometimes referred to as RPA bots or just ‘bots’, is a form of intelligent software that can be used to automate a large number of activities and processes. RPA is useful for law firms and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers because of the many rote and volume-driven tasks that they must perform on a daily basis are part of their compliance and due diligence obligations.
RPA is becoming popular because:
- RPA does not require any initial training. It does not require data samples; it only requires plainly defined processes and conditions.
- The time needed to set up and activate bots is significantly shorter than implementing a fully-fledged Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution.
The key to the effective use of RPA is identifying processes that will yield the greatest benefits. Typically, these will be:
- High-volume processes as one of the key benefits of RPA is the reduction of repetitive human effort.
- Error prone manual processes as mistakes can cause significant customer experience or regulatory problems, whereas RPA, if set up correctly, is unabating in its accuracy.
- Speed-sensitive processes where any delay can cause customer dissatisfaction. RPA can make processes instantaneous.
- Processes requiring irregular labour where companies employ for peak demand, which can be inefficient and costly. RPA bots can easily scale up or down to manage peak demand.
Here are some examples of where you can use RPA:
- Extracting data from PDFs, scanned documents, and other formats – Screen scraping, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and basic pattern recognition technologies enable data extraction from almost any format, reducing the need for manually keying in data. Again, RPA can be used to set these up and run them whenever needed.
- Creation of legal documents – Once the client information is collected, legal departments can automatically create the following documents, and more, for the same client instantly by using RPA: Bills of Sale, Operating Agreements, Business Contracts, Financial Declarations, Loan Agreements, Mortgages, Regulatory Agreements, Wills and Trusts.
- Creating, delivering, and reconciling invoices – Sales data needs to exist in both CRM and accounting systems. Instead of manually replicating the data, bots can update accounting records in addition to the preparation and delivery of invoices from the correct email accounts.
- Data migration and entry – Legacy systems still perform critical functions at companies. For example, legacy billing systems need to interface with other systems and such systems may not have the capability to pull relevant data from Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). In such cases, employees are manually migrating data using formats like CSV. RPA is much more efficient, and it will avoid any human errors.
- Customer onboarding – Some customer onboarding processes are relatively simple, where basic information is captured from the customer before they can start using a service. However, for a more complex onboarding process where case data needs to be collected, vetted, and analysed quickly in an automated way using AI then we recommend first enquiring about Wyser’s Right First-Time platform which we are building with funding from Innovate UK.
- Background and business conflict checks – RPA can help with risk assessments by conducting relevant anti-money laundering (AML), business conflict and credit reference checks.
- Civil Procedure Rules and Pre-Action Protocols – During case preparation, RPA can sort and locate various documents, grab relevant information, and place it into structured forms. This data can be particularly useful for CPR and Pre-AP. For example, in Pre-AP for personal injury claims, RPA can extract the relevant information from your CRM system to create initial versions of the letter of notification, the letter of claim and, where required, the letter of instruction to a medical expert. It can also ensure key dates are recorded in the CRM system and check that reasonable timeframes are kept to with appropriate reminders. It can also help harvest relevant information for standard disclosure lists and other general documents.
- Data updates – updating your CRM: Updating interactions to your CRM system is time-consuming and unproductive yet necessary because you want it to act as the single source of the truth regarding customer interactions. Loading a detailed customer profile and/or updating user preferences and other user information into your CRM system can also be time-consuming. RPA can enable you to integrate your email, calls and other communication data to your CRM as well as update customer contact data.
- Data validation – Most data validation controls can be embedded in databases. However, there are some data validation tasks, such as cross-checking data against publicly available data, where RPA automation is more suitable than other tools.
- Periodic report preparation and dissemination – Every business requires regular reports to inform managers and ensure teams are consistently informed of their progress. Preparing such reports and sending them over every week or month is not labour-intensive, but it distracts employees. RPA solutions can easily auto-generate reports, analyse their contents and based on the content, email them to relevant stakeholders.
The number of areas where you can use RPA is staggering. However, as with all such services, you must start by identifying some easy, quick wins. By working with a company like Wyser, you can set up some test cases, build confidence in RPA and then gradually expand it to other parts of your business where the processes being automate, while being more challenging, but equally achievable.
Law firms and ADR providers that implement RPA can greatly lower costs, create service excellence, enable greater agility and build scalable capacity into their operations.
So, can RPA give you more time? Yes, it can!
If you would like to know more about the RPA and related consultancy services that Wyser offer, please contact us.