Legal Ops Digest #2: Let’s Talk About Legal Intake Automation

December 7, 2023
December 7, 2023
min read
Legal Ops Digest #2: Let’s Talk About Legal Intake Automation

This is a preview of Legal Ops Digest, our new monthly newsletter for legal operations teams and professionals. Subscribe and receive these newsletters in your inbox every month!

In this issue, we’re focusing on legal matter intake, which is one of the biggest time sucks for legal ops teams. But also a juicy piece of low-hanging fruit when it comes to getting real business value out of process automation technology in legal. Let’s dive in. 

Like the snowflakes that begin falling in parts of the world this time of year, there are so many different ways to approach automating legal intake. Though many are similar, they’re all just a little bit unique. That’s because every company in every market has slightly different challenges when it comes to legal intake. 

For example, a gig economy company will have a high volume of shorter-term, lower-stakes contracts with individuals to deal with, whereas an enterprise IT company may have contracts involving multiple other organizations and even possibly other countries, and a retail technology company will be dealing with contracts from vendors and suppliers. 

All need a way to handle requests around contracts, but the requesters for these three sample companies are completely different, and the steps (and parties) involved are, too. 

And so, when you’re evaluating potential automation solutions, it’s important to keep your specific needs in mind. But maybe you’re not even sure what’s possible, and that’s what you need to know before you go about hunting for the right solution.   

That’s why in this issue, we’re providing a bunch of examples of the ways actual customers have used Tonkean to automate their unique legal intake needs. (See the “Legal Ops in the Field” section.) We think you’ll find some inspiration there—at the very least, an example that sparks your imagination so you can figure out what you can automate in your organization.  

But first: The latest news from around the industry. 

Latest in Legal Ops

  • Amazon says its new “Amazon Q” AI-powered assistant built for business will benefit employees in human resources, legal, product management, design, manufacturing, and operations | CNBC
  • “A generative AI governance board with representatives from the IT, HR and legal departments can help agencies formally assess use cases and associated data,” said Virtru’s Mike Morper | Route Fifty
  • How Orangetheory’s legal team used AI to complete a project in half the time | Fortune
  • Are legal operations software market giants about to go on a spending spree? | Industry Today
  • Tonkean and Clearlaw, an innovative artificial intelligence company focused on contracting intelligence, have formed a new partnership | Tonkean

If you have some insightful news or knowledge about the world of Ops to share, let us know!

Legal Ops in the Field

Legal intake is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be a slow, painstaking, manual process. If you can unify your key intake channels and leverage smart technology to automatically triage responses, you can streamline intake processes and reclaim hours of time and effort. 

Rather than accept legal intake as a necessary evil, you can also turn it into a vehicle for creating net new business value and for increasing the appreciation of the legal team throughout your organization by helping employees get to resolution much faster.

But let’s back up. Legal intake is not a one-size-fits-all challenge. Every organization faces different intake challenges depending on their business, their clients, their employees, and their industry. That means there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to legal intake, either. 

This can make getting started automating legal intake seem a daunting task. Where to start? What should it look like? 

To help bridge that imagination gap, we compiled use cases from a range of F200 legal ops departments that are using Tonkean LegalWorks to repurpose intake into a value driver for their legal teams and companies. Tonkean LegalWorks is a 100% no-code process experience and intake orchestration tool for matter lifecycle management. The legal ops departments who’ve worked with us to take back control over their intake processes include mid-size to large enterprises—Fortune 500 to Fortune 200 companies—representing fields as diverse as SaaS, cybersecurity, media, publishing, finance, and transportation.

You can read more here, but here’s an excerpt with those use cases:

  • Automating outside counsel management processes, including new engagements, managing records, and leadership reporting.
  • Creating a company-wide services portal for legal intake to enhance visibility, manage team capacity, and reporting. 
  • Intake from Slack, using NLP to evaluate messages and respond to NDAs and campaign internal order (IO) requests.
  • Automating requests to set up new users in Ironclad, along with centralized reporting.
  • Intaking, triaging, and reviewing requests for patent ideas and solicitations to be included in company patents. Establishing a metrics dashboard that gives the team visibility into request data, such as the number of requests, types, submitters, and so on. 
  • Intake of vendor, retailer, and contractor agreements that come to the legal team via Tonkean and Google forms from other units across the entire business. 
  • Triaging and orchestrating email requests from outside law firms who wish to work with the company’s subsidiaries’ conflict waivers processes. Requesters need approval from the correct internal groups, and Tonkean starts and monitors two separate email chains between requesters and those groups.
  • Automating legal mailroom operations intake by 1) scanning PDFs and routing them to the correct folder assigned to the appropriate department. And 2) triaging other mail and correspondence from Mailroom 360 to a Google sheet to prioritize and assign work.
  • Automating contract management: When a submitter uploads a final contract, Tonkean triages it through a group of approvers via Google Drive. Then each is uploaded to Evisort for historical analysis and connected with Airtable for tracking.
  • Automating intake of requests that come from sales, finance, marketing, HR, and external partners into the legal email inbox.
  • Consolidating and funneling all of the organization’s legal email requests through a Tonkean module that uses NLP to tag and assign owners.
  • When a requester fills out a form for a legal matter, the legal ops team gets a notification. They can approve or edit the details, and then Tonkean creates an entry in SimpleLegal.

The business value each customer draws from automating legal intake is as nuanced as legal intake challenges are diverse.

There are broad similarities, of course. Commonly, customers report increases in speed, simplicity, efficiency, and ease of use, along with better risk management and the ability to scale their operations. Meanwhile, there’s typically a reduction in errors. 

They also see better collaboration between parties and across teams.

There’s a lot of “more,” too. More visibility into the state of processes and transparency, thanks to the centralized reporting, which leads to greater control. More process compliance, which reduces risks of many kinds. And more time and cost savings. 

Read this article for more, including more specific stats on the business value customers have gotten from Tonkean!

Tell us about clever solutions and success stories you want your Ops peers to know about for future newsletters!

Modern Business Operations

On this episode of Modern Business Operations, host Seth Colaner is joined by Trisha Wright, Litigation Project Coordinator of DecisionQuest. Trisha dives deep into the intricacies of data collection in the professional space. She discusses the pitfalls and benefits of data collection methods and highlights the importance of collecting relevant and actionable information.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Involve legal early to avoid delays and issues down the line.
  • Document interactions to avoid problems later.
  • Following process ensures fairness while circumvention causes problems.
  • True leaders uphold processes equally for everyone.
  • People make time for what they prioritize as important.
  • Always be curious and open to new experiences and ideas.

Subscribe to the Modern Business Operations podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Maestro's Minutes

Here’s everything we did in this month’s Tonkean release notes

Module Builder

  • For the Update Field and Assign Owner actions, we've added a new value for the Updater configuration. In addition to dynamically setting the updater to the relevant user, you can assign Tonkean as the updater.
  • In addition to manually adding dropdown field options, you can now bring in options from a connected data source through a matched entity. This improvement makes it possible to unify a source-of-truth integration with a question field to automatically provide the right options.

Formulas: We added to several formulas–Convert Inner Items to Array, Convert Object to Keyed Array, and Filter Array Of Objects With Empty Field

Custom Item Interfaces and Workspace Apps

Enterprise Components:

  • Users can now integrate the Clearlaw data source with their Tonkean solutions.
  • We also enhanced the Monday and NetSuite data sources.

Bug fixes

  • Some users weren't able to create a new no-code data source entity that shared a name with a previously created entity.
  • In the Timeline widget, Tonkean was listed as the status updater, regardless of who updated the status.
  • Data source actions were creating matched entities with the name of the action that created them.
  • Guest users were unable to view the process map widget on item interfaces.
  • Some users were unable to navigate to Slack channels created by the Create Channel action.
  • Newly-created Line Item widgets were pre-populated with an empty first row.

ICMYI: Check out Legal Operators’ recent webinar, “How To Achieve Full Process Adoption in Legal by Leveraging Workflow Automation and AI.” The panel discussed how legal teams can leverage AI-powered process automation to create processes that are personalized and smart—and greatly increase legal process and matter management adoption along the way, from intake to resolution. 

  • Moderators were Legal Operators’ own Colin McCarthy, as well as Tonkean co-founder and CEO Sagi Eliyahu; Kimberly Bell, Director of Innovation & Technology at American Express; and Rajan Gupta, Director of Legal Operations, Synopys. 
  • You’ll learn: Why process adoption starts with process alignment, stakeholder input, continuous improvement and smart, personalized support; exactly what a modern, intelligent approach to technology implementation in Legal can look like; and why, in the end, embracing new technologies is an absolute must for every legal operations team 

Thanks for checking out Legal Ops Digest! To learn more about who Tonkean is or what we do, we have a few different kinds of trials that you can sign up for. They walk users through our most salient solutions, including Legal intake, Purchasing Approval, Invoice Intake, and Email inbox automation. Sign up for one here!

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