A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

Rise of the Machines: Driving Automation in Your Practice

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

by Matt Palmer, Marketing Manager, Actionstep

Lawyers could be replaced by artificial intelligence

This headline from February surely sent a few recent graduates into a panic.

Yes, the legal industry is in the line-of-sight of major technical disruption. It seems that soon, intelligent machines may replace our colleagues; keeping us company during those long nights at the office, reviewing our contracts, undertaking painful research, and hopefully continuing to make the coffee.

Despite the ‘doom-and-gloom’ headlines, AI is a huge opportunity for law firms, and builds on the shoulders of what automation has been doing for years - taking mundane repetitive tasks, handing them over to a machine, and allowing us to focus on what we do best. The result? Higher productivity, and an improved bottom-line.

Advanced AI is still an emerging technology, and not likely to reach the average law firm for a few years yet. But if you’re looking for some easy ways to save time (and money) today, here are a few smart tools you can use to make your firm more efficient:

Automate your client intake

Dealing with your busy day-to-day workload, as well as engaging with new prospective clients, and delivering a great first impression can definitely keep you on your feet.

Luckily, there are some smart tools that can help you automate the process, while still giving clients’ a personalised experience.

For starters, a customized form on your website can gather all of the information from a client you need to get started - such as the their personal details and general requirements.

This form may contain sensitive information, so ensure you're using an encrypted connection, and that the information is delivered to your firm in a secure manner (such as straight into your legal practice management system, which also eliminates manual data re-entry).

An automated, yet personalised e-mail, can then be sent to the client once the form is submitted. You could even include a link for the client to schedule an initial conversation in your calendar (with tools like Setmore or Timely).

Automating this part of your client intake is a win-win situation - freeing up your time, and delivering top-notch service to your clients.

Document and Email Automation

Law is definitely one industry known for it’s large amount of paperwork. So how can you spend less time creating documents, while still ensuring 100% accuracy of even the smallest details? That’s where document automation comes in.

Document automation technology allows you generate ready-to-send documents or emails in seconds. It does this by drawing on data already entered in to your legal practice management system.

Simple document automation can just insert the names of the parties involved, dates, and other details in the correct areas of a document template.

More advanced document automation can use conditional logic to add or remove sections based on the case details, and insert gender-specific pronouns.

If you wanted to go a step further, tools like Bundledocs can create professional PDF binders or document bundles in minutes.

Document automation helps your firm save time and money, stay competitive, and reduce the likelihood of errors.

Client Portal

For all of it’s benefits, email isn’t the most secure way to communicate and share files with clients. When you send an email, it can hop around the world from server to server, with each company having its own security and storage policies.

A ‘client portal’ allows your clients to log into to a secure area of your legal practice management system. They can then upload, download, or edit files, chat with you, and see the status of their case.

Automatic notifications can be sent to both you and client when required. This is great for both your clients’ and your firm, as it drastically reduces the inbound call volume of clients asking for a status update, and enables easy collaboration.


Workflow technology allows you to build your processes into your legal practice management
system. Rather than just having a digital case file, workflow lets you easily see the progress on
a matter, automatically create and assign tasks at each step, and ensure nothing gets missed
before moving to the next stage of the case.

Workflow can greatly increase your productivity and compliance. Everyone knows what needs
to be done next, can see what might be holding things up, and automation can keep parties
informed along the way.

While you may be using some, or all of these tools in your firm, new technology continues to
disrupt the legal industry, but can help you increase profitability, sustainability, and efficiency.
So keep an eye on the future, and if you ever find yourself repeating the same process, ask -
How can I automate this?”. The machines are here to help*.

Happy automating!

*Accurate at time of writing this article. In the event of a hostile AI take-over, this sentence will be revised.

About our Guest Blogger

Matt Palmer is the Marketing Manager for Actionstep , a powerful all-in-one cloud-based legal
practice management system customised for Australian law practices. Actionstep focuses on
powerful workflow tools and automation to help lawyers achieve greater efficiency in their

With a background in business, marketing, and web development, Matt has worked with B2B
companies for over 5 years, helping them build effective digital marketing strategies. He also
consults with a number of small businesses looking to move into their next stage of growth. Matt
has a passion for connecting with customers, helping them solve problems, and developing
great user experiences.

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