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AI or Automation? What should you be focusing on?

It seems to me that all the talk at the moment is about AI and how it will revolutionise our lives. I have no doubt that it will have an impact but is it something that law firms should be focusing on in great detail?

Well yes, I think so.

But … there’s another ‘A’ in town that I also think deserves attention … and that is Automation.

My ‘little’ business benefits from automation that saves me oodles of time and money. Let me explain.

I run regular webinars which people book to attend. I send out this weekly email. We follow up the webinars with emails to those registered. People visit our website and download research. All of these things then require follow up actions, e.g., emails to confirm a webinar booking, send the research, follow up at a later date with something relevant etc.

Now in the good old days doing all of this would have required someone to be very efficient and organised to capture all this data accurately and follow up appropriately.

But with the help of software tools such as MailerLite (our email and CRM software), Zapier (a clever bit of kit that lets you connect different bits of software), Zoom (webinar software) and a Wix website (to name just 4 of our software tools) … it becomes much simpler for me to be efficient and organised.

We have ‘Zaps’ (using Zapier) connecting our website and Zoom to MailerLite which means when you register for something … our CRM is automatically updated. So if I want to know whose booked onto a webinar or downloaded a particular piece of research … I can quickly and easily find out. What’s more I can set up tasks to ensure the right follow ups happen e.g., set up an email to automatically go out when someone downloads research … and follow up a week later if I haven’t heard back from them.

Now all of this stuff costs next to nothing, takes little time to set up and requires little expertise … if I can do it, then I suspect you could too!

It saves me so much time, ensures I am organised and enables me to provide a far better service to my clients.

But … what about AI … surely that’s the bigger player in town?

I thought I would ask to give me a considered view, so I asked Jasper the following question:

Which will have the biggest impact on law firms: Automation or AI? Include 5 key points. Use references and quote the sources.

Now the response I got was VERY biased towards AI (there’s a surprise!) … so I refined the question to the following:

Which will have the biggest impact on law firms: Automation or AI? Include 5 key benefits for each and include examples of how AI and Automation could help law firms. Use references and quote the sources.

And here’s what Jasper came up with (please excuse the Americanisation of some words):

The legal industry is constantly evolving with the integration of new technologies. The most recent technologies that have been introduced to the legal industry are automation and artificial intelligence (AI). While both technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way law firms operate, there is still debate about which will have the biggest impact on the legal industry. In this article, we will explore the differences between automation and AI and discuss their key benefits and examples of how they could help law firms.


Automation involves the use of technology to complete tasks that would otherwise be completed by humans, such as document assembly, billing and invoicing, and contract management. Here are five key benefits of automation for law firms:

  1. Increased efficiency: Automation can streamline processes and eliminate time-consuming manual tasks, allowing lawyers to focus on more valuable work. For example, automated document assembly can save hours of manual labor in drafting legal documents.

  2. Cost savings: By automating repetitive tasks, law firms can reduce labor costs and increase profitability. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, automation could save law firms up to 23% in costs.

  3. Improved accuracy: Automation can help reduce human error in tasks such as data entry and document review, leading to more accurate work products and reducing the risk of costly mistakes.

  4. Enhanced client service: Automation can help law firms provide faster and more responsive service to clients. For example, automated client intake systems can streamline the onboarding process and improve client satisfaction.

  5. Scalability: Automation allows law firms to grow without needing to hire additional staff, making it easier for small firms to compete with larger ones.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence involves the development of computer programs that can learn and perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence, such as decision-making, language translation, and speech recognition. Here are five key benefits of AI for law firms:

  1. Improved legal research: AI can analyze vast amounts of data and quickly identify relevant information, saving lawyers time and improving the accuracy of their research. For example, ROSS Intelligence is an AI-powered legal research tool that can answer complex legal questions in seconds.

  2. Enhanced document analysis: AI can review legal documents and contracts with a higher degree of accuracy than humans, helping lawyers save time and improve the quality of their work product. For instance, Kira Systems uses AI to extract and analyze information from contracts and other documents.

  3. Better decision-making: AI can provide predictive analytics that can help lawyers make better decisions. For example, Lex Machina uses AI to analyze data on past cases and provide insights into which legal strategies are most effective.

  4. Increased efficiency: AI can automate tasks and streamline processes, allowing lawyers to focus on more valuable work. AI-powered chatbots, such as LawDroid, can handle client inquiries and schedule appointments, freeing up lawyers' time for more strategic tasks.

  5. Personalized client service: AI can help law firms better understand their clients' needs and preferences, enabling them to provide tailored services and solutions. For example, Casetext's AI-powered platform can analyze user behavior to recommend relevant legal resources and precedents.

In conclusion, both automation and AI have the potential to significantly impact the legal industry by increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving the quality of legal services.

While it is difficult to predict which technology will have the biggest impact on law firms, it is clear that both automation and AI offer valuable benefits that can help law firms adapt and thrive in the rapidly changing legal landscape.


Now I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty helpful summary.

In conclusion, my point this week is – look at how the world is changing and look at your business priorities. BOTH AI and Automation can help you, focus your time and efforts in the areas that will best support your business goals. Which I suspect will mean looking at an incorporating both AI and automation into your practices.

I hope some of the resources and links will help you on your own AI and automation journey.

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