The Difference Between Artificial Intelligence and Automation — and what that means for your law firm.

Law firm automation and the terms artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are often used interchangeably. Yet, these concepts involve very distinct differences. The difference is particularly important when it comes to how the technology is used and applied in law firms. 

The idea behind law firm automation is to create machines (software and systems) that perform monotonous, repetitive tasks or processes. The goal is to free up human time for more complex activities. Law firm automation tools typically complete these tasks more quickly and are also cheaper than manual efforts.  

Tools based on artificial intelligence may also share the purpose of taking over repetitive tasks. However, they take it a step further by mimicking and even surpassing human behavior and intelligence. Drawing on tons of data, AI tools use neural networks to learn patterns and predict outcomes. 

Both law firm automation tools and AI tools run on large amounts of data. Automation, though, is based on collating the data while AI uses the data to learn, understand, predict, and change.

Automation follows set rules and instructions, while AI simulates human thinking. Much like a human brain, AI can create its own rules and outcomes. In sum, AI constantly analyzes patterns, learns from experience, and makes decisions based on past outcomes. 

In law firms, AI is finding its way into e-discovery, research, contract review, and case outcome prediction. While all of these save lots of human time, there is still a lot of progress to be made for many of these AI-based tools. Automation, on the other hand, is already an absolute necessity for a modern law firm. Automation is key in running efficiently, keeping up with client expectations, and staying ahead of the competition.

Let’s look at the top 10 areas in which law firms can and should automate tasks.

Tasks 1-5:

  • Marketing – Many tools exist to help automate your legal marketing efforts. You can pre-schedule email campaigns (MailChimp, Constant Contact) and social media posts (Hootsuite, Buffer, Social Pilot). You can also pull together automated marketing reports. The best reports provide information on how your clients find you, where they are based geographically, and the time of day they are most likely to contact your firm (GrowPath). Thanks to this type of data, you can adjust your campaign ad spend and target your marketing efforts more effectively.
  • Intake – Streamlining intake benefits both your firm and potential clients by making sure no one is wasting valuable time. Installing chatbots on your website, for example, helps to qualify leads before they call your office (Gideon.Legal). Once leads call, having scripted prompts helps anyone who answers your phone sound like an intake expert (GrowPath). Furthermore, using a lead scoring tool helps firms identify and qualify high value cases quickly. This way, you can steer them towards signing on with your firm instead of your competition (GrowPath).  
  • Case ManagementThe right legal case management software will keep your entire team organized. It will also drive cases forward and trigger higher client satisfaction. Lastly, it will optimize workflows around every type of case so that repetitive tasks are minimized. Following optimization, attorneys, paralegals, and other staff can work at a higher level (GrowPath).
  • Document Creation – It is essential for today’s firms to use templates for common documents. This is part of having a document management tool for keeping everyone organized. The tool you use should pre-populate data to prevent human error and save considerable time (GrowPath). 
  • Tasks – Collaborating as a team requires an automation tool that organizes and updates tasks in real-time. The ideal: Create tasks, sync with calendars, and generate reminders with an automated case management tool. For greatest effectiveness, that tool should pull intel from various sources and update constantly. This keeps all staff members in the entire firm aware of deadlines and tasks — their own as well as others (GrowPath).

Tasks 6-10:

  • Workflows – Workflows are the steps that need to be taken in order to complete a project or close a case. These steps should be properly monitored, managed, and optimized to make sure they are as efficient as possible (GrowPath). 
  • Scheduling – If you continue to schedule appointments by emailing back and forth, it’s time to discover a better way. Calendaring tools sync with your internal calendar. This functionality, then, allows you to set up rules, block off time, and schedule appointments easily (Calendly, Assistant.to).
  • Communication – It is easy to get overwhelmed with the many channels of communication that must be monitored constantly. The best case management software allows you to text, email, and call straight from the software. Something as simple as saving you time on looking up contact information can really add up. Your software should also automatically document any communication in the client’s case file (GrowPath). 
  • Reporting – You know what data you need and when you need it. Customizing automated reports allows you to set and forget the collation of that data. Superior analytical tools let you configure any type of report you can imagine into intuitive, visually appealing documents (GrowPath).
  • Data and Security Updates – Online security threats can paralyze a law practice. To prevent cyber attacks, make sure all of your software updates and patches regularly. Automate and sync updates for seamless protection. 

It’s Time to Go GrowPath

See how GrowPath can save you time and money. GrowPath is all-in-one legal case management software that helps law firms automate many parts of their practices. For more information or to set up a demo, contact us today!

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