What is legal document automation and how does it work?
Table of Contents:
- What is legal document automation?
- How does legal document automation work
- Types of legal document automation
- Why is legal document automation important?
- What to look for in a document automation tool
- Get started with legal document automation.
Legal document automation is a boon for law firms, paralegals, and even consumers of legal services. In the past, lawyers spent tons of hours creating and managing legal documents. But with the advent of legal document automation tools, lawyers can now free up their schedules and focus on key business areas.
This blog explores how legal document automation software can help legal professionals and firms automate documents, why legal automation is important, features to consider when shopping for a reliable solution, and the steps to get you started. Keep reading to find out more.
What is legal document automation?
Legal document automation means using AI software to create legal documents on a large scale. Nonetheless, the most common use of this software is for contract automation.
It includes logic-based systems that use segments of pre-existing data to draft a new document. Whether you're creating new documents from scratch or starting with a similar existing document, these tools can help you do the job much faster and more accurately than manual creation.
How does legal document automation work
Legal document automation works by pulling data from the user (mostly in a questionnaire format) and feeding these bits of data into variables on a document template (for example, date and client's name). Many law firms handle repetitive legal documents, so the traditional method of creating new documents would be to 'find and replace' variable texts using word processors like MS Word.
This would have been okay, but it's time-consuming and prone to errors. Meanwhile, legal document automation software can draft these documents in a jiffy by replacing variables on a template with new information from the user. So basically, the software combines three criteria to automate the process.
- A questionnaire that collects input on the variables and optional clauses in the intended document.
- A template representing the document, with an algorithm determining the placement of optional clauses and variable information in specified data fields (for example, text blocks and tables)
- An algorithm that determines when to include optional clauses based on the variable data provided.
With these three elements in place, the software assembles the input applying all the necessary styles and sequences to tailor your document as precisely as possible.
Types of legal document automation
There are two main types of document automation software for lawyers: standalone document automation software and end-to-end document automation software with built-in management features.
1. Standalone document automation
Standalone document automation software allows the user to merge letters using prompts to input data along the process. This tool does not integrate with other software you may be using to handle documents. So if you want to pull out information from an MS Word document or Excel sheet or attach an electronic signature to your document, you'd have to launch these programs separately to find what you want or perform an action.
2. End-to-end document automation
Unlike the standalone versions, end-to-end document automation tools are useful for both creating legal documents and managing them. These tools connect easily with third-party services like MS Word, DocuSign, and Salesforce, among others, allowing you to control the entire document automation on one platform.
A good example of an end-to-end document automation software is Contractbook. The platform gives you an oversight of all your legal documents and allows teams to collaborate seamlessly. Its intuitive interface further helps to streamline its use.
Why is legal document automation important?
Automation in legal firms is gradually becoming the norm. Here are a few reasons why legal firms need to hop onto this legal technology to create and manage documents.
1. Saves time and resources
The most important reason for automating documents is to save time and a good document automation tool can help you create perfect drafts in a few minutes. Additionally, the digital solution helps you cut down on paper usage and paper waste in the office.
2. Minimizes error and risks
Even the keenest of eyes could miss some unclear terms in a document during the creation or review process. But automating these processes delivers operational efficiencies and guarantees legality. The software can accomplish this goal by using content control protocols to scan for inaccuracies in contracts.
3. Fosters collaboration
A contract may involve different stakeholders. But if you were to rely on traditional wet signature capture manual review processes, it would kill plenty of time. But an automated tool serves as a central system, where all credentialed users can enter their inputs and raise queries and suggestions.
4. Improves customer experience
Document automation improves a company's responsiveness by creating more time for high-value work. Instead of waiting all day on lawyers who may be occupied with generating documents, clients can now have more access to their lawyers and enjoy more consultation and counseling time.
What to look for in a document automation tool
If you want to introduce a document automation tool to your law firm, here are some core deciding features to look out for.
Remote working is the order of the day. That's why you need an automation tool that allows team members to work together on documents across long distances. Your clients could even be on the move when they have to sign a contract, so you have to ensure that your software grants them access from wherever they are.
Syncing & Sharing
The software should enable you to work with your team or external guests without using multiple communication channels. It should provide a single platform to handle drafting, reviews, negotiations, and approval.
To get the most out of your software, ensure that it can automatically file documents in the right place after creating them. More importantly, retrieving these documents should be simplified through filter options that discern the document category or capture titles and phrases within the contract.
Integration with existing business software
Also, consider the compatibility of your automation tool with the applications you already use. It should be able to connect to multiple sources and extract data from them. These sources could be your customer relations management (CRM) system, analytics software, or content repositories.
Get started with legal document automation
Selecting the right document automation software that will integrate with your company's existing workflow can be puzzling. But we can help fix that. Contractbook's legal document automation drafter is ideal for businesses and law to future-proof their businesses and develop scalable business models. Kindly contact us today if you have any questions about implementing efficient legal workflow automation in your firm.