Assets, Assemble! Document Automation and the Legal Content Endgame
Law firms are embracing digital transformation to help streamline processes and reduce complexity. The outlier? Document assembly. As noted by Legal Talk Network, document assembly “has always seemed like the neglected stepchild of legal technology,” despite a 30-year pedigree.
With companies now struggling to reduce paper processes and get a handle on digital document management, however, assembly technology may hold the key to solving the legal content endgame.
Meet the Team: An Assembly Overview
Legal documents are complex and changeable assets — what works for one case or client may require significant modification to be used again. So that means firms often leverage multiple staff members to continually draft and change documents. But this manual process requires a significant time investment, and its repetitive nature means the general human error rate for data entry could significantly impact document usability.
Document assembly (also known as document automation) is the technology-driven process of creating customized forms and contracts that can be easily modified by staff and stakeholders alike. Instead of relying on error-prone processes that require access to vast stores of paper and digital documentation, automation solutions leverage logic-based systems to identify and compile sections of pre-existing text or data into new usable content.
There are solutions designed to integrate with firms' existing tools and databases to access existing forms data, collect information from users to generate relevant document fields, and dynamically generate new documents based on the combination of standard templates and user input. Automated documents can be created by users who only need basic word processing skills to add and update content like snippets of common text, clauses, and styles to produce documents with the right content, context, and look in record time.
The Automation Advantage
As noted by the 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market, the shift to “dynamic model” practices capable of responding to client needs on-demand requires firms to first assess their current market position and then “begin the process of making the strategic decisions required to optimize their competitive advantage.”
Lexology describes it this way: document assembly solutions offer the potential for businesses to both innovate service delivery and maximize profits, but that’s just the beginning. By automating critical asset assembly, law firms also enjoy benefits including:
- Improved Security — The more people handling a document, the greater the chance of a security breach. As noted by IT Pro Portal, legal firms and departments have some of the most stringent requirements for form and contract management. Automation tools reduce the need for human interaction and limit the potential for accidental compromise.
- Simplified Collaboration — Document editing and assembly tools allow companies to share form changes among stakeholders and allow users to make tracked comments or suggestions, simplifying the process of content review, modification, and approval.
- Enhanced Accuracy — As noted above, humans make mistakes, while automated tools excel at repetitive data entry tasks. This both lowers the amount of data to validated and proofread while simultaneously increasing overall accuracy.
- Reduced Waste — Shifting to an automation-driven document process significantly reduces the need for physical content storage by replacing filing cabinets filled with forms and contracts “just in case” with on-demand, customized asset creation that drives digital distribution.
Document management remains a struggle, even for tech-savvy legal firms. The content endgame? Forms and contracts that are dynamically generated, automatically evaluated, and digitally stored to help organizations easily assemble new assets and empower their competitive advantage.