A legaltech development by MinterEllison should see the firm saving over 40,000 hours’ legal teams’ time in the 2023 financial year through the automation of its business process management.
The firm with 2800 employees and 265 partners across Australia and New Zealand has replaced its previous process management system which will both lower costs and also reduce risks and improve client service.
But legaltech change often sees resistance from lawyers at ‘desk level’. The same thing happened at Minters, where the firm wanted something their lawyers would be comfortable working with.
“It was important that we invest in a platform that had a look and feel that the lawyers would be used to,” MinterEllison Chief Digital Officer Gary Adler said. “It would be difficult to drive uptake of a new platform that had a complex and confusing interface. When there are client pressures, and you’re working in 6-minute billing increments, learning a new system from scratch has its challenges.
“However, by creating custom applications that have a familiar look and feel to what the lawyers use in their personal lives, and making the automation an invisible process running behind the scenes, we’ve ended up with a healthy queue of legal teams that want to be moved on to the platform immediately.”
The second software challenge involves the variety of work handled by the firm and the different volume of deals and their nature. The new platform had to be flexible, as some parts of the firm would be working on hundreds of conveyancing matters each year, while other parts would be focused on just a few significant M&A activities.
Adler said that finding a solution that could consolidate all these activities to a single platform was a challenge. “We wanted everyone to access all of their matters from a single location easily,” he said. “The diligence process to find the right platform for our needs, with the broad and varied requirements that we had, was a long one.”
The Low Code Process Solution
MinterEllison turned to a low-code business process automation solution based on Appian technology, named Beacon. Beacon was sold internally as an opportunity for efficiency in legal teams to create substantial time savings.
Appian itself is a low-code development platform designed for businesses to let users build buisness process management applications like case management and related features.
By the end of the first year, Beacon managed 8,000 legal matters. For the next financial year – FY23 – the company expects to have over 20,000 matters logged and managed using the system.
This has been measured in time savings of between 10 per cent and 30 per cent per matter, and MinterEllison has calculated that the total time savings for the coming financial year will be the equivalent of 42,000 hours of lawyer and support staff time.
“In addition to the internal savings, our clients are being given access now to a new value-adding service,” Adler said. “They can now see what exactly is going on with their matters in real-time through the digital portal. They can generate their reports, access the legal documents parallel to our lawyers working on them, and take advantage of 24/7 real time access through this digital channel.
The firm did not want to adopt a so-called lift-and-shift approach to move existing functionality to a new platform, but rather wanted to built the business process management system from the ground up.
The advantage of doing this, said MinterEllison Process Automation Manager, Ryan Saul, is that the company can now take a forward-looking approach to further transformation, and continue to build out a competitive advantage.