Justice may be blind, but to create legal documents, attorneys must watch every detail, or the results could be embarrassing, threaten their business and, even, become legally problematic.
Depending on the area of practice, law firms may produce thousands of pages of legal documents every, single day. Each of those documents is filled with countless variables, including
Without help, attorneys and paralegals miss details and errors creep into their documents. Worse, those errors are often accidentally copied to the “template” they use, ensuring the mistake is included in all future versions. Ever happen in your office? (Of course not!)
Document automation software organizes all those variables and places them into your documents properly. Law firms that still rely on consumer and basic business products like Word are seriously disadvantaged. Those applications simply weren’t built for the complexity or volume of documents lawyers need, every day.
Not all document automation software is the same, though. Some are stronger—simply meaning, they do more. The most-capable applications can interview clients or witnesses, through an online questionnaire to collect information. At that level of performance, applications can create embedded lists, automatically fix gender pronouns, perform calculations, mass update templates and documents and even integrate with case management software.
Simpler systems (not necessarily cheaper) will lack these features but can be easier to use, right away. However, many systems at this tier require some level of manual control, minimizing the advantage to automating, in the first place.
Several case management systems, like AbacusLaw contain a version of document preparation. Still, most of them are on the technological level of mail merge—basic, not too smart, quick to set up, and limited in ability. Additionally, these are also restricted to canned forms with limited options for customization or integration. Most firms we train and consult with augmenting these systems with a standalone document creation platform.
Selecting the right software for your firm requires an honest assessment of your needs, goals, and resources. While nearly any attorney can appreciate what the powerful systems, like Knackly or HotDocs, can do, the conversion process (taking your existing documents and turning them into a form of a template the system can use) can be more complex and, therefore, extend setup time and, perhaps, require some outside help to complete. (The best companies will provide in-house document technicians to help with this.)
Smart firms also utilize their document automation software for in-house documents, as well. Human Resources departments rely on automation to produce employee onboarding documents, Employee Handbooks, Harassment Policy, contracts, discipline forms, tax forms, and more.
Basic Legal Documents by Practice Area
First refusal agreement
Land Sale and Lot Sales Agreements
Intent to Purchase Real Estate
Last Will and Testament
Child Justice Parental Rights
Divorce Settlement Agreement
Child Care Authorization
Letter of Intent
General and Criminal Law:
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