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Systems & Automation for Lawyers

By July 11, 2022August 3rd, 2022automation, systems

The skill needed to be a good lawyer is the same skill needed for:

  • Creating checklist systems to run any kind of business (including a law practice)
  • Using automation to get work done faster, and better (and at lower cost)

But for many good lawyers this isn’t obvious. Let’s make the important elements obvious, shall we?

Let’s begin by examining what it takes to be a good lawyer, and then see how it compares to systematizing and automating.

Litigation Example

The initial stages of a lawsuit involve fairly predictable patterns. The first few steps, if you’re the filing party, would be something like this:

  1. Identify parties to be named in lawsuit
  2. Identify possible claims to be made
  3. Draft complaint/petition
  4. File complaint/petition in proper court
  5. Effect proper service of process on all parties
  6. Await formal answer or motions
  7. File formal response appropriate to the reply in step #6 above

Good lawyers who do litigation instinctively understand how to work through these steps, or modify them as necessary.

Now that we have a concrete example of law work, let’s talk about how to develop systems.

Start With a Simple Workflow Map

Begin by looking for common recurring patterns, like the litigation workflow numbered above.

Then write out the SOP (“standard operating procedure”) for that workflow (be aware that there are actually multiple SOPs in Litigation example above.

In a law firm a common SOP would involve onboarding a new client. And the initial draft of the SOP for that might look like this.

Automation is Similar

Computer software is nothing more than a bunch of automation rules happening at lightning speed. Automation rules follow the formal logic of “if this, then that” statements.

The litigation workflow (above) uses “if this, then that” logic.

That logic isn’t visible, or obvious.

Let’s make the logic obvious by writing it out.

  1. If a client hires you to file a lawsuit, then…
  2. Gather facts to support claims to be made, then…
  3. Identify the claims to be made, then…
  4. Identify all parties against whom claims can be made, then…
  5. Draft initial pleading, and file in proper court, then…
  6. Effect proper service on all parties, then…
  7. Await responses, then wait
[DECISION BRANCH]
  • If motions objecting to service or claims are filed, then prepare opposition
  • If the answer is filed, then prepare to file initial discovery

Obvious, right?

Now Consider

The common element among systems, or automation, or solving legal problems is this…

They all involve predictable patterns.

And, if you want your law practice to run smoother, remember: there are always things you can do to make these kinds of patterns work better.

But you have to study the patterns. Which begins by noticing that there are patterns that need to be studied.

This seems obvious.

Of course, it’s not always as obvious, is it?


P.S. If you appreciate my observations, you might want to join my inner circle.
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