By Sarah Plaka
A recent report by LexisNexis found that in a random sample of “proofread” legal documents 90% contained errors.
I expect this won’t come as a surprise, as a LexisNexis survey of over 100 top UK law firms revealed 66% of lawyers felt they were under too much time pressure to proofread properly; and 33% admitted to having skipped proofreading tasks when creating or reviewing documents due to lack of time.
In fact, it found that not only do many lawyers skip proofreading steps to save time in a high-pressure environment, but their business services counterparts know this happens and are not doing enough to stop it.
The research suggests that time and costs pressures mean that fee earners are regularly failing to create documents that are as error-free as possible. This is then creating risk for firm and client, reducing work capacity and revenue, and driving down client value.
What is particularly notable is 60% of fee earners say they could do more work if they had the tools to be more efficient – but few firms have invested in proofreading technologies, and many aren’t even considering investing in it.
So what’s the problem?
It seems there is a general fear of change – business service managers find it difficult to get fee earners to actually use the tools and many firms say they prefer traditional methods of drafting.
In addition to this, the survey found that the industry was at odds with itself about who should be responsible for fixing this gap – 44% felt it was fee-earners who should be primarily responsibility for driving efficiency in relation to proofreading and 48% thought it should be business services.
And, finally, there is a lack of understanding and knowledge of the tools available. 36% of all firms polled are aware of the failures but think there’s nothing that can be done, and are completely unaware of the proofreading and document review tools that can dramatically improve error checking and document quality.
While it seems that law firms have looked for easy savings around resourcing costs through reductions and outsourcing/offshoring, they are barely scratching the surface on legal process efficiency and what can be achieved when they really analyse what lawyers do, where the efficiencies lies, and how technology can help.
Law firms are under increasing pressure to become more efficient in the way in which they work, driven not just by microeconomic conditions but also from increased competition. Now, and more than ever before, technologists have a vital role in showing lawyers how technology can now not only help them run their business, but fundamentally improve the profitability and practice of law.
For the full report see here.