Document automation is a tool lawyers use to amplify their ability to deliver personalized legal services, leveraging technology to increase speed, accuracy, endurance, and scalability.
When you picture the future of law, do you see lawyers huddling under fluorescent lights far into the night, surrounded by stacks of paper as they slowly churn out one legal document at a time?
Perhaps that once was a glorious vision of the legal profession’s future—in the decades following the invention of electricity. A plethora of technological advancements since demands that we modernize our outlook.
In choosing to automate document creation, delivery, and management, you empower your firm to deliver the customized legal services that more clients demand, at scale. Here are three must-haves to ensure your document automation initiatives help you flourish in your legal future:
Convert your often-used legal documents into optimized, reusable templates. Lawyers report up to 82% time savings using document automation to generate contracts and other legal documents such as licenses, leases, purchase agreements, wills, and trusts. This involves the use of templates that also increase accuracy, reduce risk, accelerate associate training, and enable your firm to scale services quickly with minimal effort. Here are two ways use templates to your advantage:
To navigate the legal jungle without document automation, each lawyer has to trail-blaze their own path. Drafting documents manually leaves no roadmaps or mile markers behind to aid other lawyers, nor does it provide any help to the lawyer who must draft the same document again later.
In effect, millions of lawyers traverse the same paths many times over, yet each one is left to start from scratch, again and again.
Document automation serves as a detailed map that directs new associates to your highest-quality legal document templates. Associates and paralegals instantly produce documents that already include the ideal language and recommended terms for specific circumstances.
Using templates to automate document creation accelerates new lawyers from 0 to 100 on the productivity scale from their first days at the firm, without the years-long delays and costly mistakes inherent in outdated training methods.
Your law firm can empower clients to purchase and receive legal services wholly online—and it’s not even that difficult.
Add a platform to your website (like Rally) that automates the delivery of legal documents directly to clients. Services that rely heavily on templates are ideal, such as business formation, real estate, divorce, bankruptcy, wills, estates, and other repetitive, transactional legal work.
Clients fill out online client intake forms and service-specific questionnaires. The platform then automatically inserts the correct details into your contract, letter, and other legal document templates and assembles a final package for instant online delivery.
Automating what are typically low-fee services is a win-win as you speed their completion, free your lawyers to work on more valuable matters, and nurture relationships with clients.
Consider how a top-ranked Atlantic Canadian law practice developed a program to provide easily accessible services to early-stage startups, including automated document delivery and mentorship. The firm is offering its program to entrepreneurs first, with the aim to expand automated services to other practice areas soon.
Ultimately, your firm delivers white-label legal documents at a fraction of the time and expense it used to take multiple team members to accomplish manually. What you miss in billable hours, you more than make up for in volume as you become the go-to resource for fast, reliable, and affordable services.
Offer each client their own online portal where they will share and receive all the information needed to complete legal transactions and services.
Clients can visit their portal any time they want access to their repository of legal documents. Today’s clients appreciate online portals that allow them to:
Client portals open new possibilities. You can offer other valuable resources in client portals such as videos to help clients learn more about which legal services can help them and how. Some firms are serving more clients than they ever thought possible by offering small and mid-sized companies legal subscription services for basic, recurring needs such as contract review.
“Technology has run amok in the digital office” as workers use increasing numbers of apps, says a 2021 report from Cornell University and Qatalog. People spend an hour every day hunting for information trapped in various tools and applications and interrupt at least two people up to five times a day to find what they need.
Application interoperability helps you avoid those situations. In other words, you don’t want an automation tool to plod into your firm like a surly teenager, turn its back to everyone, and pout alone in the corner. Friendly, compatible document automation software will invite others to join it on the metaphorical dance floor that is your firm’s cloud and stay attuned to exchanging data so you don’t miss a beat.
Look closely at your integration options. Your application should get along with more than just the most popular software like Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce. It should also work with your favorite legal practice management tools, other automation tools like Zapier, CRM platforms like Hubspot or Pipedrive, and tools like Mailchimp and Calendly to ensure your firm operates harmoniously.
Drafting legal documents manually is akin to running a 100-yard dash in a full-body cast. It is a battle of monstrous proportions to move forward at all.
Meanwhile, our lives play out in an age of digital hyper-connectivity. Automation is widely available in our workplaces, entertainment venues, and homes. Many industries (real estate, medical, and education to name just a few) have embraced document automation to serve more people at the point of need.
Now, we in the legal industry are relying on the same trusted automation tools to do the same.