Automating the Legal Profession

June 2, 2020

Let's explain how lawyers currently draft legal documents by taking a real-life example.

Daniel, a CEO from a technology startup, calls his lawyer (let's name him Mauricio). Daniel tells Mauricio that he has found a potential investor for his startup. However, the investor is requesting access to confidential information. What Daniel needs is a Non-Disclosure Agreement ("NDA").

Mauricio will go onto his firm's intranet and find a template NDA. If his firm has advised technology startups before, Mauricio might have a "favorite" template. Maybe, Mauricio is lucky enough to find a model that he has recently completed on a similar matter. Why is this a problem? Well, there is the risk that the NDA used on the last matter had a customized clause that affects the disclosure of information.

After selecting the template, Mauricio will make some changes, adding details like the parties' names, emails, and addresses for notices. Mauricio will then print out the document and bill his standard hourly rate.

The drafting times will vary from deal to deal, but on average the time recorded will look something like this: (1) Search of NDA Template (10 minutes); (2) Review of the NDA Template (10 mins); (3) Draft of new NDA based on the template, adding further information (30 mins); and, (4) Review of the finalized version of NDA (12 mins). In this example, the total time recorded is 1 hour and 2 minutes. Let's say Daniel receives the invoice from Mauricio for $250.00 plus taxes.

If you're like me, you've got too many responsibilities and continue to find yourself spending valuable time on tasks that can be automated. There are opportunities everywhere to streamline the efficiency of your firm, but you need to know where to look.

Document Automation

Wise lawyers leverage technology to minimize monotonous tasks that aren't an efficient use of time. Drafting an NDA with a reused template is not fun. Trust me; I've done it. Especially if the work is piling up, I will try to spend the least amount of time drafting an NDA.

Legal documents can be tedious and repetitive. Besides, mistakes and 'typos" are usual in legal documents. Instead of a "Non-Disclosure Agreement," your client might receive a document titled "Non-Disclusure Agreement." If you are billing an NDA for $250.00, the client expects nothing but perfection. Furthermore, clients are no longer willing to pay high hourly rates to law firms for junior lawyers to do routine work. Those tasks are already automatable.

With the right approach, you can automate the creation of legal documents. Document automation doesn't require a lawyer to learn how to code. The lawyer only needs to learn how to use a "no-code" software to insert the information in a legal template.

Document automation doesn't require impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work. At A2J, one of our favorite tools is Documate, a document automation software that requires 4 simple steps.

  • Select the legal document you want to automate.
  • Build your interview: Create questions to gather the relevant information for your legal document. For example, your interview should have questions such as "What is the Discloser's name?" "What is the Recipient's name?". Besides, with Documate, you can add complex branching logic to determine when to show or hide questions or pages. For example, if the answer to the question: "Have you ever received Confidential Information lawfully before the Effective Date of the Agreement" is "Yes," then you should answer additional questions on page 4.
  • Upload the document: Upload your Word or PDF templates and tag the fields to your interview question. For example, the variable "address" can be tagged to fill out the section titled "Address for Notices" in your NDA
  • Create documents: Run the interview and assemble accurate legal documents.

Law firms looking to make a move to document automation should choose the right technology partner. Attorneys will not embrace cumbersome technology that is complicated. With document automation, lawyers can have an NDA in 20 to 30 minutes at most. Reducing work from 1 hour and 2 minutes to 20 minutes is a "no brainer'.

The automation of legal documents will enable law firms to improve performance by reducing errors, improving quality and speed, and achieving outcomes beyond human capabilities. Even if these reasons are not enough, let me give you a final reason: other law firms are already automating legal documents. Thus, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to consider document automation.

Final Thoughts

The McKinsey Global Institute found that 23 percent of a lawyer's job can be automated. I believe that legal documents and forms are a part of that 23%. Document automation will bring (1) efficiency; (2) speed; (3) risk management; and, (4) iterative improvements in your legal documents.

I've recently used Documate, and I believe lawyers are still wasting their most productive hours of the day on routine work. Document automation will allow you to dedicate more time to high-value substantive work. You can rely on software to transform your practice and keep clients happy.

Document automation is one of the most powerful technologies to improve your legal practice. Law firms that embrace document automation will enjoy tremendous benefits resulting from their new competitive advantage over firms that refuse to embrace the future. Get started automating your documents and you will not regret it! Need help? Contact us!

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