The All-in-One Guide to Document Automation for Lawyers

The All-in-One Guide to Document Automation for Lawyers

The Estateably Team
March 19, 2024

Technology advances have transformed how we work, and the legal industry is no exception. Developments such as legal document automation are revolutionizing the sector, helping law firms stay one step ahead of the competition in an ever-evolving landscape.

Document automation makes light work of a routine of completing repetitive tasks associated with running a law firm, leaving your top talent free to work on high-value projects. Capable of generating up-to-date contracts at the click of a button, it’s a technology no modern law firm can afford to ignore.

In this guide, we’ll delve deep into document automation for law firms: what it does, key features to look for, and how to choose the best solution for your practice.

Document Automation for Law Firms: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Document automation for law firms involves using software to create legal documents such as letters or contracts. This software generates new documents according to pre-defined templates and any data relevant to the case (for example, your client’s name and address).

Instead of spending hours manually inputting data or drafting a contract clause by clause, users can simply answer a few questions, and the software will generate the required contract based on this information. Document automation saves lawyers significant amounts of time and money and ensures accuracy by eliminating the risk of human error.

The 4 Key Document Automation Options for Lawyers in 2024

Document automation covers several different options. Here’s what you can expect from some of the leading document automation systems designed for attorneys.

1. Template Management Systems

Legal document automation is centered around a suite of templates: The standard contracts, letters, and agreements that form the basis of every document the software creates.

An automated document is only as good as the template it’s based on, so effective template management is essential. A template management system helps your law firm store, share, and update your templates, ensuring everyone can access the latest approved versions. It’s a great way to ensure brand consistency and legal compliance across your organization.

2. Document Assembly Software

Document assembly software streamlines the automated creation of documents, saving hours of drafting time and eliminating repetitive manual data entry. As a user, you may only have to answer a simple questionnaire to populate the document with the relevant information; alternatively, if the software is integrated with other systems, such as case management software, it will retrieve this data automatically. The software will use the data to create a standard contract or document in line with the required template.

3. AI-Powered Contract Analysis Tools

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise, and not just in the legal sphere. According to the International Monetary Fund, AI is set to affect up to 40% of jobs worldwide. Already, legal firms are taking advantage of this technology through AI-powered contract analysis tools.

These tools use AI to perform various tasks that streamline operations within your law firm. They can track and analyze contracts, check for duplications and potential conflicts, summarize contracts, aggregate data to generate insights, and translate PDFs into data. They can also be trained to understand any industry-specific terms that you need to generate documents successfully for your particular field of law.

4. Cloud-Based Collaboration Platforms

One of the pillars of legal document automation is cloud-based collaboration. A cloud-based platform allows colleagues to work together on documents and templates stored online—a much more efficient process than annotating physical documents or sharing files by email. By ensuring that the most up-to-date versions of your documents can be accessed anytime and anywhere, cloud-based platforms enhance accuracy and facilitate smooth collaboration between teams, even when colleagues are working from multiple locations.

The Estimated Costs of Document Automation for Attorneys

With a wide choice of document automation systems for lawyers on the market, the costs will vary depending on your requirements, the size of your law firm, and the vendors you choose to partner with. You can expect to pay a monthly plan for your practice or use a ‘pay-per-user, per-month’ system. There may also be some setup costs involved. While you won’t need hardware for a cloud-based platform, you may require IT support to integrate the software into your current systems.

However, when you balance these costs against the time savings, document automation for legal practices is undeniably a wise investment. It releases attorneys from manual tasks so they can maximize productivity during billable hours.

Exploring the Best Features of Document Automation

Ready to dive into the details of legal document automation? If you’re considering one of these platforms for your law firm, here are some key features to look out for:

Template Creation and Management

The quality of your document automation system depends on the quality of your templates. Look for tools that manage the creation, storage, and use of your legal templates and help you maintain the most up-to-date versions of any document your law firm might need.

Variable and Conditional Logic Insertion

One of the biggest benefits of document automation is that it significantly reduces data entry. Variable insertion means you only need to enter key data such as names or monetary values once, and then the software will propagate the data throughout the document as required. Conditional logic is used to automatically insert different clauses depending on the type of contract.

Bulk Document Generation

Does your law firm routinely draft many standard documents, such as non-disclosure agreements or rental agreements? Tools capable of generating documents in bulk allow you to do just that, significantly enhancing efficiency in your practice.

Electronic Signature Integration

Electronic signatures enable people to sign legal documents digitally instead of signing a physical document by hand. This software can significantly enhance productivity in your law firm by eliminating the lengthy process of mailing, printing, and signing paper documents. The ESIGN Act of 2000 means that electronic signatures are legally binding and subject to specific criteria (there are a few exceptions, such as wills and testamentary trusts).

Workflow Automation and Approvals

Workflow automation is one of the cornerstones of customizable document automation for lawyers. These tools streamline your operations by automating the approvals process in line with your organization’s structure. For example, a paralegal might have permission to enter data into a contract, which will then be sent to the relevant senior for final approval.

Document Version Control

This tool allows users to track different versions of a document and gives access to the current updated version. It creates an audit trail to help law firms monitor changes over time.

Integration with Case Management Systems

Case management systems (CMS) organize documents and data so that lawyers can track a particular case throughout the first client contact. Integrating your legal document automation solution means that data can be pulled in from your CMS, eliminating manual data entry and streamlining your workflow.

How to Choose the Right Document Automation Software

If you’re considering a document automation solution for your law firm, here’s what to think about when choosing the right partner:


Setup is a major consideration when selecting document automation software. Think about what’s required to set up your chosen platform. Is it user-friendly? How much support will you need from your in-house IT team or from the vendor to ensure that implementation goes smoothly? You’ll also need to create a plan for minimizing disruption to your existing operations while you implement the technology, create the templates, and train attorneys to use the platform confidently.


Privacy and security are paramount to any legal business, so asking potential vendors about their security policies is crucial. Check their security certifications and privacy policies, and look for partners with robust protections. Do they use data encryption? Do they store data on multiple servers to mitigate the risk of data loss? Can you customize the roles and permissions so that sensitive data is accessible only to employees who need it? And does the system support multi-factor authentication?


Most law firms are already using several different software systems, whether to facilitate client communications or manage documents online. As a result, one of the main things to consider is integration. It’s essential to ensure that any legal document automation solution you choose is compatible with the software already in use. This will provide a smoother setup process and streamline operations once you’re up and running. For example, if you integrate your customer relationship management system, you’ll only have to enter client information once.

Document Automation for Lawyers: 5 Best Practices

Once you’ve identified the document automation software that will be most effective for you, here are five best practices to help you get the most out of your new platform:

1. Utilize Template Libraries and Standardized Forms

Set up template libraries and standardized forms to create consistency within your law firm. This will ensure that any templates you use are compatible with the software and help create a strong brand identity across all documents and communications.

2. Implement a Centralized Document Management System

While document automation is not the same as document management, the two certainly go hand in hand. Implementing a centralized document management system to store and organize your documents in a single hub is good practice. Tagging and categorizing your documents will enable everyone in your law firm to access the most up-to-date versions quickly and efficiently while ensuring that your automation system is pulling in the correct data.

3. Ensure Compliance With Legal Standards and Regulations

As with any project undertaken by your law firm, ensuring compliance is essential. This applies to the output of your document automation software (i.e., the contracts and agreements it generates) and how you use it. For example, adhere to privacy and security regulations and state laws regarding electronic signatures.

4. Integrate AI and Machine Learning for Smart Document Generation

Legal document automation presents an incredible opportunity to slash the time spent on mundane, routine tasks within your practice. Take full advantage of this by embracing the possibilities of AI and machine learning. These tools can be integrated into your software and trained to understand specific terms relating to your field of practice, enabling them to generate documents faster and more accurately.

5. Regularly Review and Update Document Templates and Processes

As with any process, it’s essential to review your legal document automation templates and processes regularly to ensure that you’re keeping up with any regulatory, personnel, or business changes. Check that your templates comply with the latest regulations and that approval flows are mapped to your current team structure. You may also need to tweak your templates to reflect any new areas of practice as your business expands.

6. Document Automation vs. Management

While document automation and document management are often mentioned in the same breath, they are two different platforms with distinct roles. Document automation describes the generation of documents: the creation of standard contracts, letters, or agreements based on information input into the system. On the other hand, document management refers to storing and organizing documents in a centralized hub.

The Benefits of Legal Document Automation

Implementing document automation brings many benefits to your practice. These include:

  • Enhanced efficiency within your law firm thanks to smoother workflows, electronic signatures, and automated approval flows.
  • Increased profitability—when software handles basic, routine elements of day-to-day operations, your attorneys are free to concentrate on more valuable work.
  • Improved client relationships —faster legal document generation leads to faster case resolutions and, ultimately, happier clients.
  • Better accuracy as a result of eliminating human error.
  • A library of expertise—standardized templates capture the most relevant versions of every document so that new hires can benefit from in-house experience without reinventing the wheel with every contract.

What Types of Documents Can Be Automated?

All legal documents, including contracts, agreements, licenses, leases, and legal letters, can be automated. Generally, automation is most effective for standardized documents, areas or fields of law where similar legal standards apply, and documents designed for a specific purpose. NDAs, rental agreements, and probate petitions are all great examples of where document automation for legal practices can be highly effective.

Is Document Automation Secure for Sensitive Legal Information?

Yes, document automation is secure for sensitive legal information. Cloud-based software is more secure than physical paper documents and on-premise IT systems. When document automation platforms are hosted in the cloud, they can be backed up in multiple locations—so, unlike with a single office-based server, you won’t lose service in the event of a disaster such as a flood or fire. However, ensuring that your chosen solution offers robust security and privacy protocols such as data encryption and multi-factor authentication is critical.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to technological advances, the legal industry is undergoing significant transformation, and document automation has emerged as one of the top legal software solutions. Generating letters, contracts, and other legal documents at the click of a button, this software greatly enhances efficiency to power up your practice.

If you’re looking for the best administration software, you're in the right place. Designed for trust and estates professionals, Estateably will bring seamlessness and enhanced productivity to your firm, even with a fully remote team. Our solution helps to automate estate and probate administration forms, accounting, reporting, and more. Ready to level up your firm? Schedule a demo today!

More Articles