Is it Cost Effective to Automate?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Workflow automation, a term which generally means leveraging computer processes to accomplish a firm's most repetitive and time-consuming tasks, can be an intimidating prospect—to such a degree, in fact, that many firms have opted to forgo it altogether. It's true that successful workflow automation can be tricky to implement. After all, if you automate the wrong process, you can end up wasting time or, even worse, making a mistake.

But automation doesn't have to be that way. In fact, some intellectual property firms have found ways to incorporate workflow automation into their day-to-day activities with little or no disruption to their regular routine. And they're reaping incredible dividends as a result.

Automation Increases Efficiency and Productivity

In 2011, 36 percent of legal organizations reported process automation as a very important or high-priorty focus area, according to Hyperion GP Research. By 2013, that number had nearly doubled to 70 percent as firm leaders realized the resources saved by automating.

For example, Fenwick & West, a Silicon Valley law firm, has implemented a document-creation program to automatically generate incorporation documents for their startup clients. In an interview with Slate, the firm's Chief Information Officer said that automation "reduced the average time we were spending from about 20 to 40 hours of billable time down to a handful of hours...In cases with even extensive documents, we can cut the time of document creation from days and weeks to hours."

Beyond admin, legal analysts are leveraging massive automated databases, like Lex Machina, to parse thousands of cases and gain insight. Using this tool, legal analysts in the Northern District of California discovered that IP plaintiffs there were winning trials more frequently than in the Eastern District of Texas, which was the opposite of traditional wisdom at the time.

Automation can also save money by simply cutting down on errors, cutting extension fees, reducing the time spent on data entry and helping firms respond faster to requests. It all adds up over time.

Additional Examples of Automation

There are numerous other examples of automation applications within the IP sphere. Hyperion GP Research has published a list of 20 of the most commonly, any one of which may be a strong candidate for your firm. Among them, they list:

  • Trademark availability and use request
  • Prior art and technical literature searches
  • Review of newsworthy art and case law
  • NDA requests and license agreement reviews
  • Billing review and approval
  • Outside counsel assignments
  • Asset mapping

Automation tools can also track deadlines and send out alerts, letting lawyers focus on higher value work rather than deadline management. Some tools can provide past and future payment data, generating cost projection reports. All of these tools enable lawyers to be more productive and focus on higher-income opportunities for the firm.

Anaqua's Workflow Automation

At Anaqua, we specialize in offering software services and automation to IP law firms and Fortune 500 companies. We've developed several unique workflow automation tools, such as a unified IP management platform, that can supercharge your firm's productivity.

For example, for teams conducting patent research, Anaqua can retrieve related art from public data sources and automatically create a summary document for review. Counsel can then track related art across multiple, unrelated patents. Anaqua also provides tools to help automate patent drafting and prosecution. Other offerings include trademark tools that cover the full cycle from search and clearance to registration and licensing, and PTOS e-filing resources.

Workflow automation is no longer just an attractive option for law firms that want to keep up with the competition. The legal field is rapidly approaching a day when automation may very well be a necessity.

If you're interested in learning more about automation and how it can benefit your business or law firm, contact ANAQUA at this link.