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Strategy, Results And Learnings of Using Document Automation In a Law Firm: Interview with Aku Sorainen

Aku Sorainen is a Founder and Managing Partner of a law firm Sorainen who managed to build one team across four countries with 33 partners and over 200 lawyers. While advising corporations, mainly in the fields of mergers & acquisitions (M&A) and real estate transactions, Aku is a visionist for the entire law firm’s strategy, business development and innovation.

We met Aku to learn how he sees clients’ demand is changing in new economies, how lawyers use technology to deliver better client value and what it takes to bring four offices work together on implementing new digital tools.

What is Sorainen strategy when it comes to technology implementation?
We want to be among the leaders in the region who implement new technologies. We don’t necessarily need to be the one who invents technologies – there are much bigger law firms in the world to do the development work. However, once the technology is more or less tested and we see this is the way forward then we’re willing to be at the forefront of implementing it.

What is your law firm’s stance on AI today?

We’ve been experimenting with some of the well-known legal due diligence tools based on machine learning. So far I don’t see machine learning as a low hanging fruit for us and I believe much more in discipline and using tech like automating to build processes more efficiently and taking the advanced benefits of a well-structured management system. This is much more to gain from that than applying machine learning for our case.

Clients’ expectations of the quality and speed of legal services are changing. However, most lawyers still think if to switch from billable hours to fixed pricing and become more efficient than the revenue stream goes down. How does Sorainen see this concern?
It’s not a threat at all. There is a pricing pressure that makes us become more efficient. Clients want better and more efficient service and are not so much willing to pay for it, so we have to accommodate the way we work to become much more efficient. We also need to be able to offer a consistent quality of what we do and document automation helps with that. We are able to automate the technical aspects of contracting. The starting point of negotiation now is so much higher otherwise you would need to start from scratch. In essence, we don’t see the work being reduced because of using technology but we rather start from a higher and more sophisticated level.

Is technology implementation a part of Sorainen branding?
It’s not branding or marketing it just where the market goes. We have a lot of talented people working in our firm and we have to be able to offer those people a complex work and can’t use them for technical work. We have to find tools where they can become more efficient. We do need easy-to-use tools. Lawyers often are too busy to learn tools that would make their work faster. We have to be very clear about what kind of tools we give them and ensure that they are easy to learn.

What has changed since you started using document automation Avokaado?
The biggest improvement that made a difference was formatting. We’re very much in the beginning – we have some very solidly automated documents in the database. Currently, we have around 100 templates under development and around 20 approved. We have also prepared a real estate lease agreement so that the client could enter our Avokaado account and we would keep this document always up-to-date for our client to use.
A major achievement for us was a unification of a SPA template for four jurisdictions including 10-15 templates in it. So I’m very proud of our team that they were able to get this product and this one super template done in three 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 places. Read more about Sorainen’s achievements here.

What were the unexpected results of using document automation within The Sorainen team?

The fact that we took the direction of creating this super template was a huge collaboration effort. And this project really glued the team together on using the same tools. I’m very happy about this result. Looking forward to the future of Avokaado.

Based on your experience with Avokaado, what are the learnings that a law firm should consider when implementing technology?
One thing that you always have to remember: it’s a different platform, different environment to work in. It requires a new habit of starting this different environment. Therefore, we recommend to start with easy documents and have many of them in order to help lawyers to establish this habit of going to the new platform. If you just have a major complicated document then lawyers when in a hurry may not remember that they now should log in to a new platform to make the agreement there. Taking something more complicated leads to a high likelihood of failing and not being eager to test out new tools. Start with the products that provide the quickest return – it is the way to keep people motivated on experimenting with new tools.

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06.12.2019

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