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Contract Automation in a Law Firm: building one centralised system with 120 contracts in 1 year

  • Industry Multinational Law Firm
  • Employees 250+ lawyers
  • Location Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus
  • 4 jurisdictions and one unified SPA
  • 20 templates approved to use firm-wide
  • 100 templates in progress

Executive Summary

Located in 4 countries, Sorainen law firm has a track record of more than 80,000 cases and over 1,000 M&A transactions. 

Having IT and knowledge management at the core of Sorainen’s strategy partners understood the value and need to have effective ways to deliver quality in order to stand out on the market and provide better client value. 

Sorainen wanted to automate the contract lifecycle; freeing their lawyers of repetitive technical tasks so they can focus more on creative work and solutions to complex client matters.

Importantly, they wanted a tool that would be easy-to-learn and fast-to-start, not to distract lawyers from their primary job: providing client service.

Sorainen chose the Avokaado contract automation platform for law firms in 2018, and since its adoption, the company has approved around 20 automated templates, with 100 future templates to be developed and added to their platform. 

Partners see the most significant ROI in automating corporate and M&A contracts. One example was their Share Purchase Agreement, a 40-plus page complex contract due to the number of potential deal structures, jurisdictions and other considerations. 

With Avokaado, they were able to automate this for use across their international practice with only one questionnaire flow. 

The need

“The times when a client comes to a law firm and lawyers start preparing an agreement from scratch are over,” says Kaupo Leppasepp, IT & Knowledge Management Partner at Sorainen. 

Understanding the need to work more efficiently and deliver better client experience, Kaupo has tested many contract automation tools, and Sorainen even built one in-house. Many of those were code-heavy and required a dedicated automation specialist who would automate the contracts as a full-time job. 

Experience with in-house tool showed that every little change or amendment required the attention of the specialist, which created a bottleneck in the process and delays. This outdated form of automation only brought additional workloads. 

Sorainen needed a tool that would enable no-coding automation with a low learning curve. 

Additionally, this tool should serve as a knowledge consolidation and collaboration environment, where all best practices should be captured to serve clients better at every level and location of the organisation.

The solution

“When we first saw the product we were immediately interested and impressed by the simplicity of the application and its actual promise that it can be supported on a daily basis by the lawyers themselves because lawyers have the best knowledge. When we have a middle man in the workflow, then the phone line gets longer, and details get lost and time is lost in waiting for someone to implement changes,” explains Kaupo. 

The way that Avokaado enhanced the ability to collaborate better and automate processes, bringing further control into the hands of the lawyers themselves, is one of the key reasons Sorainen chose Avokaado.

Sorainen began their implementation within the Knowledge Management team, with Mari Haamer as the project lead. The objective was to do an initial validation and product testing before further rollout to practice groups. 

“When you usually show an automation tool to a lawyer, they start almost screaming in pain and those all tools we tested looked so 90’s. With Avokaado we liked the nice UI. After running some testing, we got the feeling that Avokaado is a tool which actually allows lawyers, who are not very tech-savvy people to implement automation with a fairly low learning curve,” Kaupo explains. 

The results

To start Sorainen selected contracts from the Corporate and M&A practice group (CMA) that were less complicated but used frequently like NDA’s, Application to Commercial Registry and Power of Attorney’s. With those automated contracts even non-lawyers were able to draft significant volumes of similar contracts themselves. 

Next step was to automated Share Purchase Agreement (SPA), which unification was a principal need for the CMA group. The goal was ambitious – automation of SPA template for four jurisdictions into one questionnaire flow. 

Aku Sorainen comments:

                    

“I’m very proud of our team that they were able to get this one super template done in 3 months. This is now the place where all the future development will take place – all the best practices and practice notes – everything will be collected in one place rather than in 15 different databases.”

With automation of repetitive technical tasks the quality of the contracts went up. 

Automation gives users a logic of the internal structure of the contract

It is invaluable for junior lawyers who don’t need to spend hours to understand 30-40 pages contract clauses relations and the full context of the case anymore. Juniors generate the first quality drafts in a few minutes and send them to a partner for the final touch and client communication. 

Sorainen senior lawyers have also discovered the value of automation in the moments of pressuring deadlines. Kaupo adds: “When you work under time pressure or get distracted, it’s very easy to make mistakes and in our business mistakes are not really tolerated”.

The Sorainen team even obtained more than just automating contracts; the entire journey has started to change culture and habits within the team. 

“You see the cultural change when you ask a team member of how we can make things more efficient, and they suggest themselves to use automation or re-think the process map. They are not expecting someone else will find the way out for them and independently come up with a solution” adds Toomas Prangli, Country Managing Partner at Sorainen.

Next step – from in-house tool to client-facing services

The future plans for Sorainen are focused on automating longer contracts internally and forming the packages for specific use cases like company formation. 

External communication on contracts with clients is already changing as well. With automated templates designed by Sorainen lawyers, their clients now can test a new digital offer. 

The clients can self-draft contract templates via the Avokaado platform by completing questionnaires and negotiating them with lawyers – all on the platform. There is no risk of clients making mistakes or removing part of the confidentiality or non-compete clauses so that the contract is invalidated

The quality of legal services to a client and value is entering an unprecedented  level. Read here more about Sorainen’s innovation strategy to meet clients’ demand and increase quality of legal services.

Advice

Kaupo mentions that cooperation with Avokaado is and has been very valuable for Sorainen: 

“We’ve learned about automation and what we’re capable and not capable of, what our clients want and don’t want, what contracts make sense to automate. What makes Avokaado outshine the others in the market is the support and expertise that Avokaado team provides. Because sometimes if you buy the tool you have this lovely box where you can download something, access somewhere but there is no support. Then the entry barriers are very high, and things don’t get implemented. So far we’re thrilled with Avokaado, and we don’t see Avokaado as just a platform but rather as our business consultant in the field of KM and more precisely in automation.”

Toomas finalizes:

                    

“Avokaado is more agile than other solutions on the market. It’s simple to use the tool. It does not have all the functionalities that some of the other providers do, but we realised that some of those features are just nice to have and they confuse people. All the important stuff is in Avokaado.  If the law firm’s strategy is to make all the people use automation not only KM or IT, then Avokaado is the program they want to consider.”

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