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Mike Carlson

Mike Carlson is an experienced Minnesota attorney, automation specialist, legal researcher, and founder of Gray Paper Legal, LLC. Gray Paper provides automation and expert legal research support to legal professionals nationwide.

Legal Experience
Legal CRM Implementation
Tell us a little about yourself.

I am headquartered in Minneapolis but have clients all over the country. I began my legal career in 2003 serving the legal needs of creative professionals at the Center for Performing Arts, Minneapolis (IP/Business practice). I officially became a ‘legal technologist’ after joining Thomson Reuters as Reference Staff Attorney. Later, I was Practice Management Advisor for the Minnesota State Bar Association and a Template Specialist for Lawyaw, a Clio company.

What is your document automation experience?

I began automating documents while at the Minnesota State Bar Association as editor of the PracticeLaw resource library. As Template Specialist for Lawyaw, I created document templates for estate planners, family law practitioners, civil litigators, real estate attorneys, and others. I now create document automations for an equally diverse array of professionals at Gray Paper Legal.  

Can you describe your process for how you build a document automation workflow?

Projects and Estimates: Our service agreement allows our clients to work with us on a project-by-project basis. We work within budgets set by our clients following delivery of an estimate.

Process: We’ll often jump right in on commonly automated templates like estate or dissolution packages. We might also start immediately on a well-constructed product idea. BUT, whenever possible, we love to start with an informal process review; essentially, ‘what problem are you facing and how might your Gavel application resolve that problem?’ This includes some consideration of how clients process data and what other application integrations are needed to service a workflow. We stay in touch throughout the build process and clients are welcome to schedule check-ins at any time.

Delivery:  After delivery, all clients are welcome to assign modest edits at no additional charge. For more substantive monitoring (i.e., for templates subject to frequent changes in the law), we offer affordable maintenance agreements which include Westlaw alerting, additional meeting times, discounted legal research, and dedicated service hours.

What do you think are the most important qualities for a document automation specialist to have when working with a client to automate their templates and forms?

‘It depends.’ At Gray Paper, we celebrate the Delta Model of Lawyer Competency.* Ultimately, we’re here to help our clients meet well-defined business and practice challenges. This requires digging deep into a broad diversity of skill sets and, often, a willingness to learn along the way. Different challenges require different competencies. This is why our project-based service agreement promotes a collaborative experience of building, testing, and improving whether the project is to simplify a nuisance task or to improve a complex, firm-wide, workflow.

*For what it’s worth, my current ‘Delta’ is probably evenly split between the Process and Practice legs, slightly crowding the People leg (check out the interactive model at the bottom of this post).

What do you do for fun?

I love my work, of course, but I also recently discovered disc golf.  

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