Leading UK trade union law firm Thompsons Solicitors is using robotic process automation (RPA) to automate its billing processes, working with London-headquartered vendor Automation Outcomes, which are a mix of business analysts, developers and process automation experts.
Thompsons, which has up to 35,000 cases a year, runs cases through its case management system Thomson Reuters Elite MatterSphere, and bills via its practice management system, Aderant Expert Sierra, which is Aderant’s Amazon Web Services-hosted solution.
Thompsons began looking around two years ago at how it can leverage RPA to streamline its processes and began working with UiPath and T-Impact to automate its previously paper-based signature process using DocuSign.
Led by head of IT and business process, Peter Kettleborough, the firm began speaking with Automation Outcomes in the summer of 2019 about how it can eliminate the repetitive work being done by its billing team.
Automation Outcomes co-founder Gavin Price and his team spent time with the firm unpicking the processes used, and Thompsons is now initiating an increasingly complex range of bills through MatterSphere, which are then billed through Aderant.
Kettleborough, who has been with Thompsons for eight and half years and before that was head of IT at Plexus Law, told Legal IT Insider: “It generates a record in the database of the bill details needed. The robot is scheduled to examine these tables in the database. It extracts that information and then opens Aderant and proceeds to process the information from the database into the bill.”
He adds: “Historically it would have been done on a form and sent to finance by email, which involves a lot of duplication. Now the robot is programmed to check the database at 9am, 12pm and 3pm to pick up work. You can run different processes at different times.”
Thompsons does a high volume of personal injury claims, from ‘trips and slips’ to complex, high value claims. The sheer volume of cases and the pressure on margins in the insurance sector means that the firm is constantly looking for ways to gain efficiency in its processes. Kettleborough is keen to emphasise that the move is not about eliminating jobs. He told Legal IT Insider: “We have never looked at replacing employees but are always looking for ways to make the business more efficient and allow our employees to add more value.”
And he added: “If you’re having to key in the same information repeatedly, it’s not making someone’s job better or giving them job satisfaction. Reducing the dull, repetitive piece gives you the opportunity to increase your skills, so it’s a win-win situation.”
The firm is now looking at what other processes can be automated and Kettleborough said: “There is no end to what you can do with the product and the software, and we need to work out where we go next. There are lots of processes that would benefit from automation, such as file closure and the processes around that. Any regularly repeated processes can be automated, although it has to be a fairly simple decision.”
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