Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) realized that a significant amount of their attorneys' time in their day-to-day legal work was devoted to drafting legal documents, reducing their ability to assist a greater number of clients. In standard family law cases, an attorney often needs to prepare between twelve to twenty forms, and manually completing an average divorce petition can take about 2-3 hours.
In 2021, SMRLS secured a Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) for integrating document automation software, Gavel (formerly Documate), into their case management system (CMS). The SMRLS team chose which documents to automate based on how often they were used and how much time they could save. A2J Tech then automated these chosen documents within Gavel. After SMRLS attorneys had reviewed the automated documents in Gavel, A2J Tech helped integrate the document workflows with case matter and client blocks in LegalServer. Finally, SMRLS attorneys tested the fully integrated system in LegalServer.
As a result of this project, A2J Tech automated forms for both the family law and SSI/SSDI units. The family law forms are now available for use across Minnesota, while the SSI/SSDI forms are applicable nationwide. Both form types are freely accessible on the Gavel Document Marketplace. In some cases, staff managed to cut the time spent on document drafting by 40-50%, depending on the complexity of the original manually-drafted document. Additionally, other Minnesota legal aid organizations have begun contacting A2J Tech and Gavel to start implementing similar integrations for various legal subjects.