The last 25 years have seen a profound change in the way legal documents are created. Oddly enough, with the advances made in technology readily available there are thousands of law firms that still cut and paste. While they have the necessary computer horsepower and resources available, they are not leveraging the power of document assembly systems.
The next 25 years will hold some surprises for those firms that do not keep up with technology. Their competitors will be doing the same work in a fraction of the time without making any mistakes. They will have 10 error free jobs done while you are cutting and pasting your way to your next mistake.
Commoditization of legal forms is an eventuality. At some point in your career, the paper we create will not be the source of the revenue we generate. If we can prepare all of the documents in a transaction in seconds or minutes with ease and simplicity, then we are free to earn our keep with the advice and the strategies and other lawyerly skills that we bring to the table.
Getting Started with Document Assembly
There are three ways to approach document automation.
1. You can program your own templates using document assembly software.
When you program your own templates consider the math. If the form takes 10 minutes to prepare without document assembly, it will take 1 minute or less. By the time you have repeated the form 100 times you saved 15 hours. Multiply that by the number of forms you have programmed, and the time savings becomes staggering.
Many of the templates will take about the same amount of time to program as they will to create the job they will be replacing. The benefit is you program the form once, then you reap the benefit for the rest of your career.
More often than not you will be preparing workflows that used to take hours in a matter of minutes, so the actual time savings are usually much greater, and over time add up to weeks and months of time saved.
2. You can hire a consultant to program your processes.
Not everyone is able to develop their own templates. There are knowledgeable consultants who can develop a system for your office which will result similar time savings.
3. You can buy document assembly products already available for lawyers in various practice areas and jurisdictions that work out of the box.
When you purchase a well-done document assembly product it literally pays for itself on the very first use.
Benefits of Document Assembly
Document assembly enables standardization of workflows and in time becomes an integral part of a truly paperless office.
Document assembly is as easy as filling in the blanks in interviews and selecting the forms and documents you wish to create. Document assembly allows you to mine information collected in a database into the forms and documents with simple mouse clicks.
The few minutes it takes to complete most assemblies is often less time than it took to find the precedents you were going to use to cut and paste. Many complex jobs will take more time to print and stuff into the envelope than they will to create, and no cut and paste errors.
Prepare for the future of lawyering and don’t get left in the dust by competition that is leveraging the best that there is in document assembly and automation.
Albany, NY-based David Brickman has been licensed for 30+years and handles cases in litigation; business and real estate transactions; probate; family law.