Drafting legal documents is an important part of any lawyer’s job. But it can be repetitive because law firms use many documents that are very similar from one matter to the next.
For these situations, document automation can be a huge boon. It’s especially useful with documents that change little outside of client names, case numbers, dates, and other basic information.
Whenever you bring on a new client, you need to gather a lot of information. Consider asking clients to fill out intake forms through a secure online portal. It lets them complete necessary information at their leisure and saves your team from having to enter data into your system. It also sets you up for automated document creation when it comes to retainer agreements.
With automated documents, you need to create a template the first time through. After that, you can merge client information and other particulars with the template to create the specific document you need.
For a retainer agreement, you have the client’s information in your practice management system already. So all you need to do is merge it into the template you’ve created—and you’re up and running in a fraction of the time.
There are many routine documents that law firms need to draft on behalf of their clients such as pleadings, contracts, and motions.
Just as you would with a retainer agreement, you can use your practice management system to create a template and merge client information. After the initial setup, you can draft documents in a fraction of the time.
Invoices can be automated, too. Not only does this save you time, but standardizing billing helps create clear, consistent invoices that are easier for clients to understand. And if they understand what they’re being billed for, they’re more likely to pay on time.
Automating invoices also opens up the opportunity for batch billing—sending out many invoices at once. Do in minutes what used to take you hours.
Document automation comes with ethical considerations. Most practice management programs that offer document automation will be cloud-based services. Cloud-based programs can be more secure than traditional desktop software, but as a lawyer, it’s your ethical responsibility to make sure the third-party server your cloud-based practice management system uses is properly secured.
Once you’ve reviewed your system, start automating routine documents—and save yourself stress and time!
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