What is Document Automation and How Does it Work?

The legal industry is evolving, and emerging demands are pushing lawyers to invest in cost-cutting measures. Plus, their ever growing clients are consistently in need of quick and timely services.

As you all know, creating, managing, and reviewing legal documents can be dreadful sometimes. It’s even worse for rule-based documents, such as forms and legal agreements.

Well, you don’t need to brood anymore, document automation is here to save all the legal eagles.

What’s exactly is that?

That’s what this post is here for. Keep on reading to learn more!

What’s Document Automation?

At the most basic level, document automation simply involves creating first draft legal documents quickly and accurately. You don’t need to fumble with word processors, such as MS Word, to get this done.

Some legal documents usually entail complex clauses, values within the clauses, names, and dates. These aspects make them time-consuming and expensive to create manually.

Also known as document assembly, automation of documents helps law firms and lawyers to automate the process of creating documents. This helps to reduce costs, time, errors, and human effort associated with traditional drafting methods.

Through a simple questionnaire, you can get a document template for your new document. The documentation automation software builds the text and applies all the necessary styles and numbering to ensure a perfect document format.

You Need the Right Software

Document automation is increasingly becoming commonplace. This means there is a proliferation of software products that firms and lawyers can consider when shopping for one.

The term “automation” makes drafting documents using software sound easy. But you’ll easily get frustrated when you pick the wrong software, which features an unfriendly user interface and it’s prone breakdowns.

Before worrying about the technical aspects of the software, you should first think about what you want it to accomplish. This can be to speed up document processing or to improve the quality of your documents. You may also want the system to ensure greater capacity.

Also, consider the type of documents you want the software to create. Are they short and simple, long and complex, or somewhere in between?

You also have two software options: a cloud service and on-premise software. A cloud service lets you access the software online via a web browser. You can expect a monthly subscription fee for this service. The vendor is responsible for maintenance.

With on-premise software, you buy the program and install it locally. Some people may prefer this option as it makes complying with regulations easy. However, you’re responsible for maintenance of the software.

Whatever the case, take the time to pick an option that meets your output needs.

Who is Responsible for Automation?

Well, you have the software, but do you need to hire a consultant for the job?

One of the reasons for investing time in choosing the right software is to identify a user-friendly product. As a lawyer, you should be able to use it with little to no help or without extensive IT skills.

But in some cases, you need the right speed and efficiency to serve your clients. This is important if you are handling more than 10 new cases a month. As such, working with an automation consultant will be worth every penny.

They can help you to create a customized system using a software like HotDocs. Plus, you can get a dedicated expert to recreate your forms or fix them. This will help to meet your delivery times and reduce the overall costs.

How it Works for Lawyers and Firms

Traditionally, lawyers had to edit their existing templates whenever a client needed their services. In this case, they alter their names, dates, addresses and client-specific clauses. At the same time, hoping any information that was on the previous client’s documents did not get missed.  They will then send them to their client for review. Following the return of the documents, they’ll need to go through them again to ensure everything is okay. This whole process can take days to get the document ready.

With automated document creation, it’s possible to spend 70% less time to get the document ready. When creating a new document, you’ll go through an questionnaire inserting details, such as parties’ names and options, only once.

This has allowed lawyers and law firms to offer this service on a fixed fee basis. Plus, it increases the value of their portfolio since they can guarantee timely services to their clients. In the past, clients paid an hourly fee for legal paperwork and document processing.

Document automation also improves knowledge management and retention in law firms. This is because when lawyers shift from one law firm to another, they go with their knowledge and expertise.

However, since they were using the system, much of their expertise usually remains in the automated templates, which are usually retained by the law firms. This dramatically reduces knowledge drain when lawyers leave a firm.

Consider Automated Document Generation

If your law firm spends more time than expected in creating rule-based documents, now is the time to consider document automation. HotDocs software works with Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF.

This means you’ll be using programs that you’re already familiar with, and this is a time-saver. Before that, you need to prepare your team for automation. This includes document automation training.

Review your internal tasks to determine those that you want to automate. This will make the software adoption and implementation easier since you already have an idea of what you need to be done.

Document Automation – Final Thoughts

Automating your document creation can dramatically reduce errors and boost your profitability. This will allow you to produce crisp documents that do not require extensive editing. In the long run, meeting your clients’ needs won’t be as challenging as before.

Even with the perfect software, you still need help to ensure successful processes. You need to develop human systems and processes that support your technology investments. For that reason, the team at REAL Automation Solutions is here to help you achieve your document automation goals.

Do you have questions about automating your document creation? We’ll gladly respond to all of them when you schedule a consultation with our team.