Lawyers can spend much of their day creating similar versions of the same standard contracts and documents. These manual, repetitive tasks are hardly the best use of their time: It impacts their ability to focus on more strategic work, and it certainly doesn’t deliver the best value to clients in terms of billable hours.
Legal document automation software offers an effective solution to this problem. Below, we’ll look at how document automation helps law firms and in-house legal teams increase productivity so they can focus on more high-value tasks.
Legal document automation is a digital process that helps lawyers generate standard legal documents—such as probate forms, letters, and NDAs—from a template. It’s perhaps the most well-known tool under the ‘legal automation’ umbrella, which describes any mundane or repetitive legal process that software can automate, such as document management or knowledge management.
Automation technology is most suitable for generating routine documents such as NDAs, T&Cs, or renewal contracts. It’s worth considering legal automation if:
Automation may not be suitable for:
Creating a standard contract, such as an NDA, can be laborious and time-consuming. After wading through all the previous versions to find the most up-to-date Word document or PDF, lawyers then have to make manual amends to correct any errors that have crept in. Then, they need to include all the relevant information, such as the effective date and counterparty, before entering into the back-and-forth over negotiation and signatures. It all involves a lot of cutting, pasting, and chasing, with plenty of scope for human error along the way.
Here’s how the process looks when you create a digital contract instead:
By streamlining the entire document creation process, automation software can bring a host of benefits to a law firm:
Nobody went to law school hoping to spend all day entering the same client information over and over. One of the main benefits of technology is the sheer amount of time it can save. Freed from routine administrative tasks such as printing PDFs for signature, a legal department can focus on providing strategic advice or complex negotiations.
Legal automation significantly reduces the cost of creating legal documents by saving time on manual tasks. Digital contracts and self-service capabilities reduce a team’s workload, helping decrease costs and make the best use of resources.
Creating documents at scale involves a large amount of duplication, both in terms of drafting documents and entering client information. Automation can significantly reduce this by building a bank of up-to-date, compliant documents and pulling information from your client database.
Version control is a big challenge for law firms and legal teams. Creating multiple versions of the same contract and saving them as Word documents means that it’s difficult to identify the definitive version and increases the risk of errors and non-compliance. Legal document automation helps establish a single source of truth with standardized templates based on business rules that comply with current legal requirements.
Manually producing a large number of documents invites a degree of human error. Automation software, on the other hand, can repeat the same task repeatedly without getting tired, reducing the risk of error so that documents are accurate, up-to-date, and compliant.
Digital contracts capture information that can be used in analytics to improve processes. This information can also be linked to other systems, such as client communications software, for a smoother workflow.
Automation software offers a quicker turnaround for legal services and provides cost savings that can be passed on to clients. It also enables self-service for clients and internal stakeholders to create simple documents themselves.
Selecting the right platform is imperative to fully reap the benefits of document automation. Here are a few tips for doing so:
Despite the impact that document automation has already had on the legal industry, many lawyers are still resistant to new technology for fear that it will erode their role in creating contracts. Consider a pilot scheme to demonstrate the benefits of delegating routine tasks so that they can focus on more high-value work, leading to greater job satisfaction.
This applies to both your legal field and your geographical location. Legal regulations can vary internationally and from state to state, so verify whether your technology provider can create templates that comply with your operating area. It’s also critical that the system can generate documents for your specific area of law.
Legal document automation doesn’t operate in a vacuum; it’s important to consider it as part of your overall legal automation software, together with tools such as billing, compliance management and reporting, and analytics. While document automation isn’t the same as document management (which helps lawyers organize, search, edit, and manage the access of documents), the two often go hand in hand.
Looking to power your trust and estates law practice with the help of legal automation tools? Estateably offers a cloud-based estate, trust, and guardianship administration solution. Our library of over 1,000 automated documents includes provincial probate forms, precedents, federal notices, and template letters that can be generated with just one click.