One multinational tech company that uses the legal operations platform Brightflag receives roughly 1,000 invoices from outside law firms every month.
Typically, the company would manually check each of the documents to ensure that items such as the bill-to entity and the matter reference number were correct, said Brightflag’s Chief Customer Officer Kevin Cohn.
But since implementing Brightflag’s PDF Check technology, the company no longer has to have a human manually review the invoices that typically are submitted in PDF format.
Cohn said that’s because when the company’s law firms now access Brightflag to upload their invoices as PDFs, the AI-powered software notifies them of any corrections that need to be made before submission.
This instant feedback ensures that when the invoices are submitted and the legal department sends them along to finance, they are not sent back for correction.
“The invoices more consistently get paid faster, and that's good for the law firms and for the relationship with law firms,” Cohn told Legal Dive.
Additionally, he said many more legal departments will have access to PDF Check now that Brightflag has released it for general availability following a period of beta usage.
The current challenges
The legal department at the large technology company mentioned above is far from the only in-house team that has often had personnel spend many hours reviewing invoices from law firms and other vendors, according to Cohn.
Legal professionals tasked with handling such matters can include e-billing specialists and legal operations employees at larger corporations, as well as in-house counsel or even legal chiefs at smaller organizations.
Having these in-house professionals spending time and energy focused on invoicing takes them away from higher-value work, Cohn said.
Additionally, manual review of invoices can often result in errors going unnoticed until the documents reach the finance department. In instances like this, the entire invoice submission and review process has to start over again.
“It's adding another series of weeks, or potentially months, before the law firm gets paid,” Cohn said.
Brightflag’s PDF Check helps address invoicing issues by using optical character recognition (OCR) to extract the text in an invoice.
The AI used by the tool can then identify with an extremely high degree of confidence whether the text included in an invoice matches the legal department’s requirements from its database.
Legal departments can have outside vendors beyond law firms, such as technology services providers, use PDF Check as well, Cohn said.
Additionally, he noted that legal departments’ outside vendors do not have to pay anything to access Brightflag and utilize PDF Check.
Growing interest in AI tools
Cohn said PDF Check is the latest fruit of the many thousands of hours Brightflag has spent through the years incorporating AI into its legal spend and matter management platform.
He also highlighted that the launch of PDF Check comes during a period in which both customers and potential customers have expressed a greater interest in how legal-specific AI tools can assist them, particularly in the aftermath of OpenAI’s launch of the ChatGPT chatbot.
“Previously RFPs might have said, ‘We're also interested in hearing about any AI capabilities that you have,’” Cohn said. “Now, RFPs are showing up saying, ‘If you don't use AI for solving this problem, we're not going to use you.’”
Rimini Street, the third-party enterprise software support services provider, is a Brightflag user that has offered public praise for Brightflag’s new product.
Alisa De Dominicis, the company’s VP of Global, Legal, and E&C Operations, said PDF Check “has been a huge time-saver for our legal operations team.”
”But the most significant benefit is the improved relationship with Finance, as PDF Check has eliminated errors and extra work for them,” De Dominicis said in a press release.