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Take Your Practice to the Next Level With Document Automation Tools

By Danielle DavisRoe

Are you looking for ways to take your law practice to the next level? Consider using document automation tools to help streamline your workflow and produce more accurate documents faster. Document automation tools can help you create and manage documents more efficiently, which can save your firm time and money. Here’s an overview.

What Is Document Automation and How Can It Help Your Law Practice?

Document automation is a process that uses software to automate the creation of legal documents. This can be done by creating templates that can be populated with data from a case management system or other sources, or by using wizards or questionnaires to guide users through the document drafting process.

(Note: The table below, compiled by Attorney at Work editors, lists standalone document automation and contract automation products.)

Document automation can save you significant time and effort while ensuring that all your documents are consistent and conform to your firm’s standards. Additionally, document automation can help law firms better manage their workflows and control costs. By automating the drafting of documents, lawyers are free to focus on higher-level work. When drafting is automated, less-skilled team members can draft more complex documents.

For many law firms, document automation is an essential part of their practice management strategy.

How Do You Decide Which Documents to Automate?

The first step in deciding which documents to automate is to take inventory of the types of documents you draft on a regular basis. Once you have a good understanding of the types of documents you regularly produce, you can assess which ones to start with.

Start by considering how often you use each type of document and how much time it would save you if it were automated. For example, if you find that you frequently draft revocable trusts and they take five hours to draft on average, automating them could save you a considerable amount of time.

Another important factor is the complexity of the document. While revocable trusts are typically complex, you can automate them with the right drafting tools. They may not, however, be the easiest documents to start with as you learn how to use automation tools. Documents that are more boilerplate in nature, such as letters or simple contracts, are a great place to start when you’re first learning the ropes.

Ultimately, the decision about which documents to automate in your law practice will come down to the importance of certain documents to your daily operations.

How Much Does Document Automation Cost and Is It Worth the Investment?

As you might guess, the cost of document automation will vary depending on the scope and complexity of the project. There are two costs to consider — the cost of the automation software and the cost of automating each template.

Automation may cost nothing extra if you use tools found in software you already own, such as Microsoft Word fields or your practice management system. Dedicated software designed to automate complex documents can be purchased outright or billed as a subscription. Most often, you’ll need to pay for each user’s license.

If you do the automation work yourself, it won’t cost you anything to automate your document other than your time. How long it will take depends on the complexity of the documents you decide to automate and the application you use to automate them. More powerful automation tools have a steeper learning curve.

If you decide to outsource the automation of your templates, you’ll save time, but it will require an upfront investment. The cost will depend on the automation software you are using, the complexity of the documents and the number of documents. The more complex the document, the more time it takes to automate and the more it will cost.

Document Automation Products

Here is a sampling of document automation software products — also known as document assembly — and contract automation software for law firms and legal departments. – Editor

Document Automation ProductsContract Automation Products
Here is a range of well-known products, in alpha order.Contract automation is a growing market in legal tech.
ActiveDocs OpusAvvoka
DocumateClarilis
EpoqContract Express
HotDocsContractPodAi
The FormTool | DoxseraDraftOnce
KnacklyExari
Lawyaw (Clio)JuriBlox
LiteraJuro
WoodPeckerLeaflet
XpressDoxWeAgree

About Affinity Consulting Group

Affinity Consulting Group inspires, enables, and empowers legal teams of all sizes to work smarter, from anywhere. The company’s holistic approach incorporates people, process, and technology. Affinity’s passionate, well-connected industry experts work hand in hand with you to help you better understand and optimize your business — from software to growth strategy, and everything in between.

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Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Danielle Danielle DavisRoe

Danielle DavisRoe is a senior consultant with Affinity Consulting Group (@affinitylegal). Whether it’s teaching clients a new skill through training, speaking at CLE events, or management consulting, Danielle is 100% focused on making the lives of her clients better. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and a Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

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