Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to change the way in which lawyers do their work. Apart from affecting areas like legal research and analysis, AI in the law firm has led to an increased focus on document automation.

Large transactions often require an entire suite of legal documents, all of which take time to draft and can ultimately delay the implementation of a transaction.

While basic forms have long been generated by way of basic information submitted by users, document automation now extends to a complex suite of legal documents.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa itself has embarked on an automation train where transactional legal documents, court papers, and other precedents can be generated by a user completing a questionnaire. The result is a first draft for the lawyers to consider and edit.

The accuracy of these first drafts has increased dramatically in recent years and will continue to do so as computing power and the interconnectedness of data continues to develop.

Document automation will ultimately save time and costs for clients, allowing the attorneys to focus on more intricate tasks. Document automation is, however, more effective with high-volume, low-complexity documents as there are few efficiency gains where a user is required to complete a detailed 20 page questionnaire to generate a single, complex document. In these cases, it may still be better for the lawyer to draft the document from an existing precedent with old-fashioned drafting notes.