This summer, Vasile Tiple was appointed Head of Legal Automation at UiPath, providing companies with the leading enterprise platform for automation. A logical step in his career, as he previously led the legal department of UiPath into the Legal Automation Program. A program of which he himself was a sceptic at first, but soon after the first repetitive process was automated, he became an ambassador for using robotic process automation (RPA) for legal work. Now he’s leading the industry into the legal automation era.
The journey of legal automation of UiPath started four years ago, tells Vasile Tiple. He was then general counsel. ‘In that role I needed to make sure the company was protected from a legal and compliance point of view.’ At first, Tiple was a non-believer, as he states it. But if the company wanted to scale, while keeping the customers happy, Tiple needed to ask himself the question: what work could be done by robots?
Automating export control
The first process that Tiple took on was the export control policy, which needed to be checked in order to avoid doing business with sanctioned countries and customers. Doing this process manually is a lot of work, according to Tiple, especially when you have to check thousands of clients. Also, specific software to perform these checks was quite expensive at that point in time for the company and burdensome in terms of implementation and training the users. So, it only made sense to use UiPath’s own RPA solution to automate this process.
‘Now, the process runs behind the scenes and it’s only when something isn’t OK that our sales and legal teams will get a notification of what is wrong,’ says Tiple. The project was the turning point for Tiple: ‘It made me a believer and from that moment I tasked every legal person within each legal team function like privacy, corporate, employment, contracting, product legal and compliance to look at possibilities to automate. Every legal team needed to identify ways that work could be made more efficient, accurate and secure with the help of robots.’
Freeing up time for complex projects
Two new projects were set up. The first was the automation of contract review. A very tedious process and predictable work for lawyers, because often standard templates are used for these contracts. ‘Lawyers already know what is in the standard company contract but need to read it in order to be sure. Now, the robots can check the contract to see if it’s correct and that frees up a lot of time for the lawyers for more complex tasks.’
The second project that arose was the GDPR robot – a robot to ensure compliance with the privacy law. ‘RPA helped us transform our GDPR approach and transform a legal requirement into an opportunity to do things better, more accurate and faster, by implementing RPA and get a better visibility of the data, including a more agile privacy compliance process.’
What all three initial RPA projects accomplished was to free up time of the lawyers of UiPath and to implement its own software for putting in place a unique legal compliance framework where lawyers and robots work together for ensuring company objectives, says Tiple. ‘And these projects are excellent use cases that are universally applicable to any company since these show the market how legal automation works and what benefits can be gained from it.’
A seed planted for legal automation for customers
Initially, legal automation was purely an internal project, but two live events in Bucharest and Amsterdam in 2019 planted the seed for an external program. ‘We really wanted to understand what our customers needed when it comes to legal automation. What is better for law firms? And what is useful for an inhouse legal department? These insights helped us to better leverage our own use cases.’
After gaining customer insight, Tiple presented the use cases on UiPath events and blogs. This triggered customers’ interest. ‘After we went public, we spoke to law firms and customers with large legal departments that were exploring legal automation. One law firm works to automate time sheets, for example. Not only will they be able to automate a very tedious process, but they could also easily show customers or auditors how much time they were spending on a project.’
RPA is a game changer
Not all legal firms and departments are convinced that legal automation is for them. ‘They are excited, but they think it’s not applicable for them. However, the sentiments are changing, because we can show RPA is a game changer. It will change the way they run their business. They can deliver services faster, safer and more accurately. They can charge better and more relevant fees to their customers and expand their own offering for the benefit of their existing customers but also new ones, so in the end RPA will give them a competitive advantage.’
It’s now been half a year since Tiple took on the job of Head of Legal Automation and what he needs to do is becoming much clearer. He defines three focus areas. The first is making a legal automation play book: ‘The main question that we will answer is: what is RPA and how can I use it as a legal firm or department? In this book, we make sense of end-to-end processes and the specific robots they can employ which are relevant to them based on the focus of their firm or company.’
How legal automation impacts students
The second area is setting up partnerships with law schools. ‘We are already helping universities and other professional bodies to adjust their curricula and include RPA as a practical tool that can help them professionally. This way, students will understand how technology will be a disruption for their profession. And how automation can really impact their future. Law students will have a different future with law firms that use RPA from those who don’t. At companies that use RPA, they will be diving into the more complex cases right away and the expectations will be higher.’
The third focus area is internally: ‘We want to see how we can add features to our own platform for the legal industry. I really believe we have a unique product, and by doing the right configuration we can create out-of-the-box modules to address specific legal and compliance matters. This way, customers can start slowly to try and taste the promise of RPA. Actually, seeing a robot work, is how I became a believer. It’s one thing to read about it, but another all together to see it in action. I recommend to all your readers to check out our legal solutions page to see some robots in action.’