Because so much of legal work begins and ends with documents, the best way to immediately benefit from workflow automation is through legal document automation. By automating your document processes, you’ll not only receive significant benefits with the least amount of disruption to your current operations, but also create a solid foundation for bigger workflow automation upgrades in the future.
Why Legal Document Automation is Important
Regardless of your practice area, legal work requires a lot of repetitive processes to create a high volume of documents, such as contracts, agreements, pleadings, wills, and many more, which must all be compliant, consistent, and accurate.
Unfortunately, the all-too-common practice of reusing a base template or searching for an old document and utilizing “find and replace” to manually tailor each document for a specific purpose can lead to errors and important details missed. This is a tedious manual process that takes up valuable lawyer time that could otherwise be spent doing higher-value client work, and the likelihood of human error can create additional approval cycles and costly delays, as well as erode client confidence.
By automating the production of legal documents through smart templates and apps, legal teams can increase their efficiency, reduce errors, and eliminate the need to manually fill out the same information across multiple documents and formats.
Optimize Operations with Document Automation
Here are some specific examples of how document automation can help law firms and corporate legal teams optimize their operations:
Small, Midsize, and Boutique Law Firms
1. New Client Intake: With the amount of competition between small firms, your level of efficiency and communication can mean all the difference when it comes to winning new business. Automating client intake and engagement letters that can be passed to clients for electronic signature can save administrative time and effort as well as show prospective clients that your firm is fast, attentive, accurate, and technologically modern.
2. Document Generation: Especially useful for boutique firms — such as estate planning, family law, or bankruptcy practices — that offer fixed rates for legal packages rather than charging hourly, the ability to save time creating documents is critical to keeping hourly work within the scope of your pricing structure. Automation can help firms gather the needed information and automatically generate most, if not all, of the documents included in a fixed-price package, which saves time and frees up specialized consultative time with clients.
Large Law Firms
3. Mergers and Acquisitions Term Sheet Intake and Deal Document Generation: With time-sensitive legal work, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) — where the timeliness and success of large deals going through will impact a lot of people — any time-saving opportunities are especially useful, which is where automation can help. Automating the process to create a term sheet intake and automatically populating standard M&A documents allows your team to get a head start on the process as well as eliminate the risk of potential errors that can cost valuable time and approval cycles to rectify.
4. Be Better Equipped to Serve Corporate Legal Departments: For outside counsel that provide either partial or full-service support to large corporations, there is increased pressure to stay current on the most innovative practices in order to remain competitive. This means finding more efficient ways to service your clients and manage your workload, from reducing high-volume repetition to simplifying more complex tasks to offering bespoke self-service solutions so that lawyer expertise can be freed up to focus on more high-risk, specialized matters.
Corporate Legal Teams
5. Request Intake: Corporate legal departments spend a significant amount of time managing requests for issue evaluation, document review or creation, and numerous other tasks that are coming in a steady stream via email. Automation technology helps reign in this chaos by streamlining the intake process. Things like simple employment agreements or non-disclosure agreements can be set up as self-service with department oversight only as needed. Getting out from under these types of requests allows your legal department to better manage internal requests, simultaneously creating order while freeing up valuable lawyer and paralegal time. This way, your team spends less time managing and organizing documentation and more time meeting the needs of the business.
6. Case Intake: Ordinarily, when corporate lawyers are served with lawsuits, they would have to manually generate responsive pleadings to ensure the case is handled properly. Automating the intake process ensures that no steps are missed, responsive pleading templates are automatically generated, and all relevant information is exactly where it should be. This frees up legal staff to spend more time responding to a lawsuit and less time on administrative work.
Find out more in “Automating Your Corporate Legal Department Made Easy.”
How to Choose the Right Document Automation Technology
While there are many great automation tools out there, not all of them are suited to handle the sheer volume of document creation, sophisticated level of logic, or level of security legal teams need. Here are some important features to look for when selecting your automation tools:
- High-Volume Capabilities: It should be able to handle rapid and high-volume document creation.
- Robust Logic: The tool should be capable of supporting your unique processes and workflows without being too complicated to set up.
- Secure and Compliant: Robust security features not only keep documents safe from external threats but also maintain ethical walls and keep privileged information limited to only those who should have access.
- Works With Your Existing Document Management: Document creation without a method to store the finished product creates inefficiencies, so make sure your document automation tool connects seamlessly with your existing document management system (DMS) for a fully efficient workflow.
Want to get started? Learn more in the guide “Automate Your Expertise! Where to Begin.”