Legito PowerUp 2023 Stewart McKelvey's Document Automation Journey
Stewart McKelvey is Atlantic Canada’s largest law firm and one of the 20 largest in the country. With more than 250
lawyers, the firm operates six offices throughout the four Atlantic provinces.
First Phase Key Improvements
Documents Created in Pilot Alone
- Paul opened our Legito PowerUp 2023 User Conference with an informative discussion about his experiences with process automation in general, since assuming the role of Practice Innovation Partner (now Chief Innovation Officer) at Stewart McKelvey in 2015, and, in particular, with Legito, since initiating a firm-wide implementation starting in 2022 with a staff of 250 lawyers and 300 support personnel.
- The firm recognizes the changing landscape for Law Firms as it relates to traditional fee models and the need for technology innovation to drive greater efficiencies.
- Paul was candid about sharing lessons learned from tech-based initiatives that didn’t always go well. For instance, a failed implementation of a practice management system – nicknamed Voldemort, the system never to be named, in his words, and how it shaped their approach to innovation.
- Finding the right time to transition to new technology
- Clarifying ownership, and funding appropriately
- Listening early and often to stakeholders
- Involving users early
- Clearly defining required features
- Recognizing the need for change management
- Showcasing success
- Embracing continuous improvement
The process identified Legito as the front runner from a list of competing solutions, partly because they wanted a solution that was tightly integrated with other Stewart McKelvey resources, and they wanted users to have an intuitive route to getting work done.
Develop a culture of continuous improvement, learning and change to respond to the evolving expectations of our clients.
- Paul has a simple approach to prioritising automation projects: start with projects that have the biggest impact and the lowest difficulty.
- They find this is the best way to minimize resistance to innovation. There will always be some people more reluctant than others.
- Legito was not their first document automation product. They already had some templates.
- They used Legito consultants to convert the legacy templates for use with Legito – it made sense beginning with documents that had already been pre-vetted for automation.
- Through the Firm’s Smartnet intranet system, every Stewart McKelvey lawyer has access to tools customized to that lawyer’s practice area. Lawyers did not have the frustration of navigating through numerous clicks and screens to reach materials relevant to them.
- Stewart McKelvey is expanding the templates available to lawyers over time, encouraging early adopters willing to work with the innovation team.
- The firm has systems for measuring lawyer contributions and they started automating in practice areas where lawyers were seeing a steady decline in realization (the proportion of legal work that gets billed rather than written off or discounted).
- The Trust & Estates team was one of the early candidates for automation. Realization rates have gone up by approximately 15% – even before a full launch.
- Paul emphasized the principles required for successful projects can be well known, and yet project implementation and product adoption can drift into situations where the team fails to heed good practice.
- Sometimes it takes a story like Paul’s to remind us that failed projects happen, but significant economic benefits flow and increase when there is a strategy and a methodology to execute for effective product evaluation, selection and implementation.