Deep dive

A guide to legal automation for in-house legal

April 3, 2024
Streamline AI

Table of Contents

As businesses expand and the regulatory environments become more complex, in-house legal teams face an increasing workload and the pressure to deliver more strategic value while controlling costs. Legal automation software has emerged as an innovative legal tech solution to this expanding scope of responsibility, allowing legal departments to be more efficient. 

What is legal automation?

Legal automation harnesses technology to streamline and improve legal processes, significantly reducing manual input when it comes to routine, repetitive work. A variety of software and tools are designed to optimize functions such as legal request information gathering, legal request intake and triage, contract and document generation, contract management, and compliance monitoring. By automating these types of tasks, legal counsel can focus on more complex and strategic parts of their work. 

For example, Streamline AI excels in transforming the traditional, cumbersome legal request intake, coordination, and management process into an efficient, automated flow. Streamline AI’s intelligent intake and triage software enables the creation and updating of no-code workflows that automatically route legal requests to the right legal, business, HR, and other approvers for review and approval based on preset strike zones and playbook guidelines, requiring limited human intervention from the legal team. Built-in safeguards and parameters help ensure that the right processes are automatically followed and nothing is missed. 

This type of process automation allows legal teams to be more responsive to the business and ensure compliance at scale, proactive risk management, and reducing human error. Streamlining these high-volume, routine tasks frees up legal teams to have the bandwidth to concentrate on the more nuanced and strategic aspects of their work, contributing to higher job satisfaction and ensuring that organizations can navigate the complexities of the legal landscape with greater agility and precision.

In short, the right legal process automation software empowers in-house legal teams to work more effectively, ensure compliance, speed up research, and implement more efficient processes. 

The benefits of automation for in-house legal teams

There are many benefits to automating workflows for in-house legal teams, including:

  • Increased efficiency. Speeding up legal processes with automation allows legal teams to handle more work in less time, respond more quickly to inquiries and requests, and focus on tasks that add value to the company. 
  • Cost savings. Automation minimizes the hours spent on repetitive tasks and reduces the need for outside counsel. Automation in legal departments also improves accuracy by reducing human error, ultimately reducing costs of legal operations and increasing the overall efficiency of in-house legal teams. According to the 2023 Legal Department Operations index, 57% of General Counsels see automation technologies as a significant part of their cost-control strategy.
  • Better compliance and risk management. Automated systems with preset guidelines and parameters improve compliance with regulations, policies, and contractual obligations, reducing the risk of breaches, penalties, and legal disputes. They provide consistent, reliable outputs that help maintain legal, regulatory, and company policy compliance.
  • Better collaboration. Integrated platforms offer seamless communication and information sharing, reducing the back and forth between teams and ensuring all stakeholders can access up-to-date statuses and latest data. 
  • Better decision-making. Improved access to data and insights helps in-house legal teams anticipate potential issues, plan more effectively, and provide more proactive guidance to their organizations. 

With Streamline AI, you can automatically route review and approval workflows based on preset parameters.

How legal automation has evolved

There’s been a significant transition from traditional, manual legal task management methods to more sophisticated, automated solutions. These advancements align with the adoption of broader workflow automation technology for organizations and reflect a shift in the legal industry’s approach to efficiency, accuracy, and adding strategic value. 

Initially, legal departments relied heavily on manual processes for all aspects of work. Tasks like contract management, compliance tracking, document review, and more are time-intensive, prone to human error, and difficult to scale. Manual methods led to bottlenecks, increased costs, and delayed response times. When legal teams could not handle the transaction volume in-house, they shifted much of the work to outside counsel, significantly increasing costs.

Early software solutions offered basic functionality, like electronic document management, simple databases, and automated templates for routine documents. According to Gartner, in 2019, the average legal department reported that while 55% of their work on corporate transactions was automatable, only 33% of its corporate transaction work was automated, indicating a significant opportunity for increased efficiency through technology. As technology advanced, legal automation tools evolved to include more sophisticated features. Integrated platforms emerged, offering end-to-end solutions that manage the entire legal lifecycle, like contract lifecycle management solutions. These systems enable seamless workflows, centralized data management, and improved collaboration within the legal department and other teams.

Essential features of legal automation tools

Modern legal automation tools introduce many critical capabilities that transform legal operations. Some key automation technologies to explore include:

  • Intake and triage. Intake and workflow automation technologies can make legal request intake frictionless. Software like Streamline AI can automatically consolidate requests from multiple channels — email, Slack, Salesforce, CLM, and more — into a centralized mission control for legal departments.  This system then conditionally directs the request to the appropriate legal team member and other business approvers based on request information. This not only accelerates the response time to legal requests but also significantly reduces the manual effort involved in managing them.
  • Document automation. Document automation allows in-house legal teams to quickly generate standard documents like contracts, agreements, letters, and more using predefined and playbook-approved form templates and clauses. 
  • Contract management. Advanced contract lifecycle management systems can simplify key processes throughout the entire contract lifecycle. These systems include automated reminders for critical dates such as payment, notice, and renewal dates, automatic contract data extraction, and automation of a centralized repository for contract management. 
  • Compliance tracking. Compliance tracking tools help monitor contracts and documents in a variety of ways. They can provide alerts for compliance deadlines, automate reporting, and offer a dashboard of compliance statuses. 
  • Legal analytics. Legal reporting and analytics tools analyze large amounts of legal and process information to track legal metrics, identify trends, or predict outcomes, ultimately informing strategic decision-making. They can provide valuable insights into contract negotiation strategies, litigation risks, and the efficiency of legal processes. 
Streamline AI's automated reporting dashboards give legal teams the real-time metrics they need to make data-driven decisions.


The legal automation software's ability to connect with other systems already in use, such as customer relationship management (CRM) tools such as Salesforce, communication tools such as Slack and email, is essential. Legal work often involves multiple departments and business stakeholders. Integrations facilitate easier collaboration by ensuring that there is data sharing and access to relevant data between their usual work platforms. These integrations save time otherwise spent manually entering the same data multiple times and improve the accuracy and consistency of data.  For example, an automated contract generation tool that integrates with Salesforce’s CRM can pull in prospect data directly to generate a contract with the agreed upon deal terms, not only speeding up the process but also providing self-service options. 

Ease of use

The success of any tool greatly depends on its ease of use and how it seamlessly can be integrated into day-to-day work. Given in-house legal’s limited bandwidth, it’s important that the tool is intuitive to encourage activation and usage. A straightforward, user-friendly interface means legal professionals can quickly get the hang of the tool, need less training, and feel more comfortable using it regularly.

For example, Streamline AI was co-founded by an in-house attorney who had to scale a commercial legal team with limited resources. Because the tool was specifically built with her hands-on experiences, Streamline AI’s interface is created with the in-house legal end-user in mind, ensuring that they can easily manage legal requests, automate workflows, and access critical data without extensive training. 

No-code automation

No-code automation tools empower legal teams to customize and adapt the platform to meet evolving business processes. In today’s economic environment, changes to business operations and processes are commonplace and frequent. More traditional and legacy software might require IT resources for any significant customization, leading to delays and potential bottlenecks. However, with a no-code process automation software, legal teams can themselves make necessary adjustments quickly and efficiently, ensuring that the tool remains aligned with the team's needs without overburdening or waiting for IT resources. This ensures that the legal department remains agile and responsive, effectively supporting the broader organization's objectives without compromising on compliance or efficiency or giving the perception of being a blocker. 


Finally, the flexibility to tailor the automation tools to fit the particular way a legal department works is key. Each legal department can differ based on structure, priorities, industry, or more. The ability to adjust the software to meet your legal team or organization's specific demands, like customizing it for different types of documents, workflows, or compliance checks, ensures that the tool is genuinely beneficial and can provide significant value tailored to organizational needs. 

Areas where legal automation works best

Legal automation is particularly effective in areas where the tasks are repetitive, time-consuming, and prone to human error or where they involve large volumes of data that need to be processed or analyzed. 

Tasks best suited for automation typically share common characteristics. They are usually:

  • Routine and repetitive. Tasks that follow a consistent pattern or set of procedures without much variation are ideal for automation. These are tasks that need to be done frequently and consume a considerable amount of time when done manually.
  • High-volume. Tasks that handle large amounts of data or documents are perfect candidates for automation. 
  • Rule-based. Tasks that have clear, predefined rules or algorithms can govern automation well. If you can define a workflow or decision tree, chances are it can be automated, ensuring consistent outcomes every time.
  • Low discretion. Activities requiring little to no human judgment or intuitive decision-making are an ideal first use case for automation. These tasks typically don’t need the nuanced understanding or creative problem-solving that humans provide.
  • Prone to human error. Tasks that are tedious and detail-oriented, where human error can lead to significant issues and risks, are excellent for automation.

How to get started with legal workflow automation

To get started, focus on the areas where automation can provide quick wins in terms of time and cost savings, risk mitigation, and improved service delivery. Start with the most manual, repetitive, and time-consuming processes in your current workflow, as these are typically the ones where automation can have the most immediate impact. For example, legal request intake, triage, approval workflows are common areas in which legal departments often choose to start. Targeting areas like these for initial efforts can yield quick, impactful gains in time, cost savings, and risk reduction, setting a solid foundation for broader automation integration.

Are you drowning in routine legal requests, struggling to keep up with the growing demands on your department? It's time to explore how legal automation can revolutionize the way you work. Adopting legal automation is a strategic move for in-house legal teams, boosting efficiency and refocusing efforts on strategic initiatives. 

Set up a personalized consultation with Streamline AI’s legal automation experts to:

  • Identify areas where automation can have the greatest impact on your legal team’s efficiency and productivity.
  • Evaluate your current processes and technology stack to determine the best approach for your department.
  • Assess whether Streamline AI’s modern legal request intake and triage solution aligns with your needs and goals,

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