Most of you are pretty familiar with using website chatbots in your daily lives – whether to assist in your online banking or to help with a product issue. But what if you went to report sexual harassment at work and you were greeted by a chatbot? That may seem a little unusual, however, there are a couple of advantages to this approach, including a better customer service experience for internal customers and allowing the compliance professionals to take on more complex work. For several years the legal and compliance industry discussions around chatbots have focused on how law firms can use chatbots. In this blog, I will focus on three ways in-house legal and compliance departments should use them to their advantage.
1. As a legal intake tool.
A common challenge for legal departments is how to intake matters and manage the work in the legal department. Legal operations teams are always looking for ways to understand what people are doing and how to make the process more efficient. There is a lot of discussion on how forms and/or workflow tools can be leveraged to solve this issue – and they are very helpful – but you can take this one step further with a chatbot. When someone inside your organization comes to the legal team, you can have a chatbot gather basic, or even more detailed, information about what they need. You can train a chatbot to understand the category of their need – advice, contract, patent, litigation, ediscovery – and then take them through a series of questions to better understand the need. You can then even have the request routed through your workflow tool so it gets assigned to the right person (e.g., assigned to an attorney, a paralegal, or an ediscovery project manager). As your chatbot gets familiar with the questions, you can have it ask deeper questions and take the request even further.
2. To answer common legal questions.
Legal departments tend to run lean. As a former general counsel who still speaks with a lot of legal department leaders, I know these leaders are always looking for ways to do more with less (or the same). They want to ensure their teams are spending time on substantive legal issues and not answering common questions that come up and can be handled differently. For example, answering questions about where to find the sexual harassment training or how to send over or sign a standard NDA, are questions that come into the legal department and lawyers spend their time answering them. These questions could easily be answered by a chatbot trained with common questions. This would provide a better user experience because the information is shared instantaneously with the user and it also frees up time for legal resources to spend their time on more unique issues. Finally, legal team members also feel more productive and engaged because their time isn’t being spent on more administrative tasks!
3. In place of a hotline.
This is one of the more unique use cases I have heard recently but it makes a lot of sense. Compliance hotlines work well because of the anonymity available but there is not an opportunity to share information back with the person reporting. For example, the person reporting an incident may want to know what the next steps might be, where they can find a certain policy, or where they can find additional resources. None of that is available via a hotline or even a form. With a chatbot, however, you can keep the anonymity but mimic a more personal conversation where additional resources can be shared. As shared on the Women in Compliance podcast, one organization has trained chatbots to be their first line of intake and support on sexual harassment complaints. The internal response has been very positive.
If you are in legal operations and looking for ways to make the legal team more efficient, a general counsel or chief compliance officer looking at your budget wondering how to do more with less, or an attorney or compliance professionals wondering how you can lessen your administrative work, I hope the use cases above gave you some ideas. If you are using chatbots on your in-house legal team or in your compliance role, I would love to hear how. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.