Clarilis, a new model of document automation business that uses its own legal advisers to convert law firm precedents, has won Burness Paull as a client shortly after other major wins including Travers Smith.

Burness Paull, a top-tier Scottish commercial law firm, has hired Clarilis for a series of precedent projects. The firm has just gone live on a firm-wide initiative to automate the many thousands of complex letters of engagement it produces every year.

As well as saving time drafting the letters of engagement, the Clarilis platform is regarded as a risk management tool that will help Burness Paull to ensure greater rigour and consistency across its practice. 

Clarilis was launched 18 months ago and on top of its proprietary automation software, offers a 12-strong team of specialist PSL programmers who convert a law firm’s precedents.

Together with the law firm, Clarilis identifies the categories of documents that would represent the best return on investment if automated, such as a share purchase agreement and its surrounding documents. Clarilis’ PSLs, who are all former practising lawyers and take around six months to fully train, will then liaise with the precedent ‘owner’ and automate it. The idea is that law firms will only ever talk to a Clarilis lawyer, who speaks the same language.

While automation has steadily been gaining traction, law firms often find that the effort and lawyer engagement required after an automation deal has been signed means the project stagnates.

Lindsay Wallace, director of knowledge & risk management at Burness Paull said: “Market conditions are driving firms towards automation and this trend is here to stay due to the ever increasing focus on price and the commoditisation of some areas of the law. Automation of documents is becoming increasingly common and is even expected by some clients.

“As well as its approach, which is based on a managed solution rather than a DIY toolkit, the key value is the team at Clarilis who speak the legal language, understand the needs of our business and how lawyers think. They are driven, task focused and always deliver exactly what they say they will. It’s this combination that, for us, makes Clarilis faster, better and less risky than traditional approaches to automation.”

In a recent survey by Clarilis on the drafting process, Ann Cant, IT director at Travers Smith said: “Travers Smith strives to find new ways to drive efficiencies without compromising the quality of our work.  We were attracted to Clarilis’ refreshing approach to the age old problem of precedent automation. Instead of a toolkit whereby we would have to try and implement ourselves, Clarilis provide a credible managed solution based on an expert team and proven processes. The Clarilis approach will have a positive impact on our business.”

Clarilis technology has been around since 2007, when it was developed for corporate and commercial boutique Legal Clarity. The firm was approached to license the technology, leading to the development and launch of Clarilis.

James Quinn, solicitor and co-founder of Clarilis and Legal Clarity said: “Burness Paull has one of the largest team of PSLs in Scotland and was happy with manual drafting when we first approached them. It’s great to see the journey we’ve been on with them over the last twelve months, to have changed their initially negative perception of automation providers and to see them validating our approach at the highest level within the firm.”