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Preparing for the No-Code and Low-Code Age of Law

May 24, 2021, 8:00 AM


Low-code and no-code application platforms enable lawyers to automate tasks and construct digital workflows that meet their specific needs without IT assistance. No-code apps eliminate the software purchasing and coding challenges of the past and expand opportunities to innovate. They help you automate high-volume, repetitive tasks to gain a competitive edge without the costs and limitations of traditional software.

The law firms and legal departments that adopt no-code apps first will become technology-driven market leaders, making themselves a beacon of attraction for tech-savvy clients and top talent.

How Do Lawyers Use No-Code Platforms?

We’ve traditionally adopted rigid software programs and required legal professionals to learn each software’s intricacies and adapt their work styles to its capabilities. We all learned the hard way to periodically save the document we’re working on or risk losing all our hard work, right? And we learned to structure our file systems with folders and subfolders.

In the simplest example, a no-code platform would let a lawyer tell the software to save a new version of an open document every five minutes or another ideal interval. A lawyer could also automate whom the software routes the document to, who is notified of its progress, and additional activities without restraint by any software program’s limitations.

No-code apps enable people who know nothing about coding to tailor automated processes to meet their needs with minimal training and effort. If you need a software developer to get the most out of a platform, it’s designated a “low-code” solution. Hallmarks of the no-code environment include intuitive design and a user-friendly interface. Using visual builders such as drag and drop tools, lawyers manipulate pre-built blocks of code to handcraft technological solutions while the platform auto-generates the code in the background.

Why Is the No-Code Movement Popular?

Law firms and legal departments can either purchase or build software solutions. Buying committees can take months to sift through the many options available and still never find a good fit. Feature updates can be slow, especially when customizations are involved.

Building software often requires thousands of dollars and several months as developers try to recreate workers’ actions via written code. But when translating workers’ needs to a developer and then into code, critical elements often get lost or misunderstood.

Lawyers can quickly build custom solutions using a no-code platform. Gartner has stated that “by 2023, over 50% of medium-to-large enterprises will have adopted an LCAP [low-code application platform] as one of their strategic application platforms” and “by 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity across all sizes of companies.”

No-Code Benefits for Lawyers

With no-code apps, digital transformation that used to take weeks or months can be accomplished in days—and at a fraction of the cost. For example, you can speed contracting work with automation covering contract creation, negotiation, routing, tracking, notification, analytics, and reporting needs.

No-code apps can perform many high-value activities, including:

  • automating and auditing compliance measures;
  • automating intake procedures and tracking and organizing client, case, and matter information;
  • automating document and contract creation, review, and management;
  • providing timely alerts and follow-ups on contract expiration and “need by” dates;
  • tracking relevant metrics and automatically calculating price, ROI, salary, and cost metrics; and
  • automating partner and associate performance review processes.

No-Code Isn’t Perfect ... Yet

Scalability can become a concern with no-code applications. You’re limited to a no-code application’s capabilities, i.e., you can’t drag and drop a feature that doesn’t exist.

But no-code applications are already helping lawyers optimize processes faster and without draining IT resources. Gartner recently found a 30% decrease in the time it takes to execute M&A deals due to automation and predicts that by 2024, legal departments will have automated 50% of legal work related to major corporate transactions.

Three Steps to Prepare for a No-Code Future

How can you prepare for a no-code future?

Become familiar with today’s no-code platforms. Learn how they help business teams become more productive and how your legal team can apply their use. Remember, you’re not building software; you’re solving logistical and process-oriented problems.

Assess where you, your lawyers, and your legal staff can use a no-code app for automated advantages. Go for the big wins. If your lawyers spend most of their time drafting and reviewing contracts, a contract automation platform will help you save the most resources.

Keep an eye on the no-code movement as it progresses. Periodically reevaluate how its use can help you add value for clients and internal teams.

As a lawyer, I welcome a no-code future in which lawyers will provide more value to clients, faster, and with leaner operations. With a bit of preparation, we can all thrive in the coming no-code age.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.

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Olga V. Mack is the CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. She focuses on improving and shaping the future of law, having led for decades as a general counsel, operations professional, startup adviser, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur.

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