Announcing AI-enabled invoice review

Lauren Jennings | February 10, 2021 | Articles

Legalweek(year) 2021 kicked off its first of five virtual events last Tuesday, with our parent company, Onit, announcing AI-enabled invoice review for the Onit and SimpleLegal legal tech families.

There’s been a lot of media coverage about AI and how it will transform the field of law, its impact on law firms, and even a few concerns on whether in-house teams and lawyers understand it.

Our founder, Nathan Wenzel, broke down what AI in legal actually means a few weeks back, but following the announcement of AI-enabled invoice review, we wanted to give a little more context on what this technology means to the SimpleLegal team – and how it will impact legal departments across all industries and geographies.

Where It All Started

In 2014, our founders demoed early AI models targeted at legal invoice review, and it seemed the timing wasn’t right. Fast forward to 2021. Legal teams are more dispersed than ever, a datapoint accelerated by a global pandemic, and legal ops professionals have emerged as the cornerstone of highly effective legal departments. These folks are strategic allies to the business with a direct impact on bottom line, risk management, and cross-functional efficiency.

Through our customers, we’ve had the opportunity to watch GCs, legal ops professionals, and their in-house teams embrace technology, with many keeping a watchful eye on technological advancements and potential benefits for their department and organization.

“We’re excited to return to our early stomping grounds and showcase what AI technology can do for legal departments,” shared Mahmoud Hashemi, Director of Engineering at SimpleLegal.

Why We’re Believers

“We observed that most legal departments don’t have the resources to review invoices on a line-by-line basis,” said Hashemi. “We wanted to highlight notable expenses to provide simple, focused feedback that our clients can message back to their firms. The goal isn’t to make thousands of adjustments, it’s to help clients get the invoices and expenses they want to see from their law firms.”

AI technology reduces the number of potential issues associated with human invoice review. It’s not meant to replace humans, but to support their efforts to yield the best possible outcomes.

Think of it like flying a plane. Would you want a pilot to captain your flight without any use of technology? Probably not. Would you want a robot to captain your flight without the oversight of a trained and experienced professional? Probably not. Having a human pilot with training and experience, guided and supported by technology creates feelings of safety and reliability for passengers. It’s a similar concept for applying AI to legal work.

We live in an era when the advancement in tools and technology makes AI readily applicable to business problems. It’s not overly complicated to fold into existing processes.

Hashemi adds to this idea; “Our team is really excited about how seamlessly the approach works with our IIW and Invoice Review rules engines. The solution dovetails perfectly, without dedicated engineering effort. We’re also enjoying the process of discovering and highlighting legal industry trends through our extensive historical data. Looking forward, this approach augments our existing configurations to highlight emerging trends in billing in a truly SaaS approach.”

Focus on Innovation

“With focus on our core product offering, the introduction of AI-enabled invoice review allows us to provide additional value in the invoice review process by freeing up time of in-house attorneys to get more high-value work done,” comments Shri Iyer, VP of Product at SimpleLegal.

“Our goal is to make the lives of our clients better. Any technology solution should support innovation for our clients first and foremost,” adds Iyer who also notes that AI-enabled invoice review provides legal teams with the data they need for more meaningful vendor conversations, as well as a clearer path for incremental changes to billing behavior with offending vendors.

Craig Raeburn, VP of Sales and Customer Success at SimpleLegal echoes the benefits outlined by Iyer, summing up the value for both current and potential customers into 5 key points:

  1. Reduced fees – confidence of not missing erroneous line items
  2. Transparency to billing patterns – better understanding of law firm billing, plus ongoing learnings from those patterns
  3. Predictability – insights into what similar fees may typically cost or how long they typically take
  4. Time savings – less time spent by team having to review the invoice thanks to AI assistance
  5. Law firm simplicity – ease of use for law firms to submit invoices which are parsed into data points that can be analyzed by in-house teams

So where does AI for invoice review leave law firms? The technology plays a critical role in catching erroneous billing, but it also serves as a data-driven foundation for clients to have meaningful conversations with their law firms around billing practices. Better billing leads to faster review by clients which means invoices are paid in shorter periods of time. It’s a win win for all involved.

Our Commitment to Legal

“It’s our commitment – and ability – to bring the latest, innovative technology to our customers’ most critical business issues,” says Mark Weidick, General Manager at SimpleLegal. “In partnership with Onit, we’re able to scale cutting-edge technology across both of our solutions, helping facilitate process efficiencies, time and cost savings, and more meaningful relationships with outside counsel for legal teams across every stage of legal ops maturity,” adds Weidick.

Contact us to learn more about how AI-enabled invoice review can benefit your team and try our savings calculator to see how much you can save by implementing SimpleLegal.