Maddocks innovates and enhances legal services using Adobe Acrobat

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Maddocks is proud of its reputation as a modern Australian law firm, continually exploring ways to evolve and improve. This commitment to innovation extends from the creative, solutions-focused outcomes delivered for its clients, to the reliable and efficient suite of applications championed by its IT team.

Maddocks first introduced digital document workflows and started promoting its eContract capabilities in 2016. As reliance on PDF files grew, the tools the firm was using could not scale and evolve at the speed they needed, leading to inefficiencies.

Law firms know that success is built on great client service. Stability, speed and simplicity in IT solutions are critical to enable lawyers to focus on client goals. Brad Kay, who joined Maddocks as CIO at the start of 2017, set out to identify a more fit for purpose solution, which he found in Adobe Acrobat.

“Embracing new technology and innovation is core to our strategy. In many areas is it a differentiator, helping us to deliver excellence in employee experience and client service,” says Kay.

Working closely with Kay, Justine Ingaliso is an enthusiastic champion of enterprise-grade digital document technology that automates and accelerates workflows. As Manager of Application Services for Maddocks, she recognizes the importance of being able to work efficiently with documents.

“Having worked with lawyers for the majority of my career, I understand first hand many of the challenges that they and their secretaries face. I’m excited to be in a position to make sure we give our staff the best technology enabling them to work as efficiently and reliably as possible,” Ingaliso says.

Higher performance for digital documents

Migration to the Adobe application was completed within weeks, including setting up integration with the firm’s cloud-based document management platform, iManage. The integration streamlines digital workflows to save Maddocks’ lawyers and legal secretaries hours of time while improving collaboration and document governance.

The property development team at Maddocks was first in line to integrate digital contracts into their processes. For property contracts, staff combine sales contracts with vendor statements and high-resolution renderings, creating files that often exceed 100MB. “Without rock-solid PDF software, the team couldn’t accomplish their goal of having a fully digital contract process from end to end,” Kay says. “Adobe Acrobat makes it easy to reliably combine and compress large files for easier sharing.”

The firm’s Dispute Resolution and Litigation team frequently review large documents and, when working on discovery tasks, makes use of functions such as redacting, rotating, combining as well as the OCR feature. “These functions within the Adobe solution are better than our previous PDF tool,” says Ingaliso. “The features are far more sophisticated and it’s a lot more reliable and faster. The support requests are much lower and our staff are definitely happier now.”

The firm also uses a custom-built Microsoft Power Automate application which is integrated with Adobe to improve its billing processes. “We reduced many manual steps taken to produce, collate and send for billing custom billing correspondence to one click of a button” says Kay. “Key information is captured automatically from PDFs, populated into emails customised to client needs and then filed automatically against the appropriate matters in iManage. It has impressed even the hardest-to-please.”

Positive impacts for clients and the community

Maddocks is an executive member of the Australian Legal Sector Alliance (AusLSA), a group of law firms committed to promoting sustainable practices. Thanks in part to its adoption of Acrobat, Maddocks has contributed to the alliance’s 64 percent reduction in paper use between 2018 and 2022. Kay expects this trend will only increase as the firm continues to prioritise digital innovation.

To expedite workflows using electronic signatures, Kay is implementing Adobe Acrobat Sign and experimenting with generative AI to ensure the firm continues to evolve with client needs.

The firm is testing how AI-powered large language models can help with tasks like summarising evidence used in a case, quickly developing an outline, or drafting routine internal communications. “We are looking at it from both the risk and opportunity. Our experiments to date have proven a number of use cases to be valuable for our people and clients and we expect this to grow at a rapid rate, so it is critical that we continue to invest, and we see Adobe as being a key partner in our continued innovation efforts,” says Kay.