Robotic process automation (RPA) can speed up work in the legal department, bringing in accuracy, speed and efficiency through secured automated tasks. Many legal compliances and services can be automated to assign burdensome and repetitive work to bots.

For instance, contract management can be made easier by deploying RPA to tackle the repetitive rule-based, data-driven processes of tasks and contracts. Bots can work on contracts in bulk once they are trained. Research that can take hours manually can be speeded up with RPA. Furthermore, with high-security features due to data encryption, RPA can keep information secure. Privacy and security issues are also automated through data encryption algorithms. Attorney-client privacy can be maintained. Automated notifications and regular updates on compliance-related regulations can reduce the workload of cross-checking for new updates and amendments.

Data analysis can be made extremely efficient since RPA can extract data from multiple sources simultaneously.

RPA helps in management of unstructured data through software that help segregate similar types of files from a set of different types of documents. For instance, in due diligence for large organisations with vast tracts of data, entailing analysing various documents and agreements, a bot can scan and segregate documents into different folders based on common characteristics; this would save significant time before the due diligence work begins.

Bots are capable of data entry without errors. For instance, they can make an excel sheet of lease agreements, party names, terms of the agreement, and expiry dates, creating an organised repository of information.

There is fear that humans may be replaced by robots, but while bots can do clerical and repetitive work faster and more efficiently, they have to be instructed and trained by humans on the work to be done and the work process, especially in legal tasks.

For example, the bots must be manually updated whenever there’s a shift in the routine processes being automated. At present, they cannot replace lawyers. Legal clerks, however, are at risk of being replaced by RPA.

On the other hand, RPA without human oversight can lead to problems, including errors with severe legal repercussions and disciplinary actions. Bots cannot trace some of the errors that humans easily catch. Paper or handwritten documents are also a challenge that RPA is facing.

Since RPA coding and implementation are customised to suit the needs of an organisation, the initial investments could be high. Established law firms and legal associations can afford this. However, without proper structure and governance, RPAs will fail. For broader and sustainable deployment of new-age technology, meaningful oversight by all parties concerned is necessary.

The writers are lawyers with King, Stubb and Kasiva, a law firm

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