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What is document automation and how is it used in the legal sector?

by WardBlawg on December 13, 2018

Document automation means creating automated templates, using software, for legal documents (such as contracts). Once the templates are created, users of the software usually answer questionnaires within the software. Once it has this information, the software can instantly generate the contract, and you’re done.

The purpose is to automate the repetitive process of building a document from scratch each time you need a new contract. In practice, many contracts are extremely similar, with just a few variations. So, for example, if you ‘teach’ your document automation software the template of your typical NDA, then next time you need one, you can generate it instantly and just let the software know which parties, names, dates and so on to use. It can even add formatting, numbering and document styles as per your requirements.

Automating the creation of complex documents can dramatically reduce the human effort, time and costs involved in drafting. It also helps to reduce risk; once the initial template build is done, the opportunity for human error to creep into the drafting process is dramatically reduced. The advantages of consistency, efficiency and compliance are obvious.

Finally, successful document automation can allow colleagues to self-serve. For example, if an in-house legal department invests time into automating the templates for its sales contracts, then when a new sale is made, the sales manager can answer a few questions within the software and generate a watertight sales contract without imposing a time cost on legal. This leaves legal free to focus on the biggest risks and value-adds.

Consider document automation if your documents or processes are:

  • High risk and require consistent inputs and outputs across a standalone document or a broader suite
  • Done repeatedly, using well-established documents and processes
  • Tedious or time consuming to complete manually
  • Done on a fixed-price basis and/or with low profit margin
  • Of a type that could benefit from clients or a third party inputting data or participating directly in matter workflows

Document automation may not be suitable for:

  • New areas of legal practice with processes and documents that are still to be settled
  • Unique or non-repeatable tasks and bespoke matters, done on an ad hoc basis
  • Matters with frequently changing requirements
  • Documents that are not in Word format

If automation is not the right solution, consider other ways to improve matter management, such as task management tools, process mapping, LPM, and agile techniques.

This article was taken from the Thomson Reuters definitive guide to legal document automation for law firms. To read the full guide please click here.

WardBlawg

WardBlawg

Legal Blogger at WardBlawg
+Gavin Ward is the founder of WardBlawg, Director of YouBlawg Limited and Operations Director at Moore Legal Technology Limited, specialising in helping law firms, lawyers and businesses grow their businesses online and aiming to help get great legal content published and shared across the web. Gavin created this law blog or ‘blawg’ to aim to contribute useful updates, thoughts and advice to help law firms, businesses and the legal profession in the UK and across the world succeed both online and offline.
WardBlawg
WardBlawg

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