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Case Study

Insights from IP Lawyers Who Use Documate for Their Law Firms

Client onboarding was the lowest-hanging fruit
Expert systems brought value as both internal training tools and for external user experience
Document automation portals brought huge value add as a client relationship builder
Attorneys were able to apply the same principles to IP-adjacent areas like entity formation

We surveyed 20 IP attorneys on how they use Documate to automate everything from client intake to building complex expert systems for trademark law.

Intellectual property law is one of the top use cases on Documate. IP attorneys are automating documents ranging from simple agreements to complex processes. We surveyed 20 IP lawyers who have built end-to-end legal apps on Documate. We asked them how they started, what they’re automating, and where they think the future of IP law is going with the introduction of technology into everyday processes. As we dove deeper into their responses, we found 3 key takeaways:

1.   Client onboarding was the first area attorneys tackled with automation. On average, they improved speed by a whopping 13x and delivered a seamless digital experience to clients.

Almost every IP attorney we spoke to started with the same document - the engagement letter. Yes, it’s a basic document, they told us. But it was easy to automate and prove out the use case within the firm. Most automated it in less than a day, and everyone was positively impacted - attorneys, paralegals, and clients.

Automating the engagement letter and the client intake questionnaire process takes less than a day to set up (and can be done by support staff who knows your process), and it has huge impacts - this automation takes away all the stress and time-crunch of onboarding a new client (especially if you get a few new clients in one day). 

The speed and omnipresence of technology makes your new client feel like they're your #1 priority, even when you can't respond immediately. Without you lifting a finger, your workflows help you get them fully onboarded on day 1.

It’s not just about speed, though. The client experience is better, too. Technology is like your client's constant companion - it's there even when you can't be. Some fun stats:

* 15 of the 20 IP attorneys we spoke with told us that they had received unsolicited positive feedback from their clients on the efficiency and clarity of the process and on use of the Documate portal to sign in and store client intake information. 

* Six of the 20 IP attorneys we spoke with have integrated videos of themselves or a cartoon throughout the client-facing workflow. These videos explain basic information in a matter or attorney-client relationship. One San Francisco-based IP attorney told us, “I was explaining the entity formation and trademark processes to my clients each time, sometimes multiple times a day. So instead, I made a video, embedded it into my Documate client intake workflow, and replicated myself. Now, every client sees the best version of my explanation before our meeting, and I get to save my voice." Another attorney noted, "the early formalities are typically non-billable work that I can now spend on other clients. Even if it's technically billable, I usually underbilled for it.”

Run and generate documents from this free engagement letter workflow. Love it? sign up for Documate and we'll give you a copy you can modify to fit your own firm policies and needs.
2.   IP lawyers found unexpected value from building full expert systems, particularly to automate the trademark process. 

Every IP lawyer we spoke to said they started with document automation for all of their templates and forms, which resulted in process improvement, speed, and error-proofing as the major benefits. However, 12 of the attorneys we spoke with also built full expert systems that not only automate documents, but also guide other staff and clients through tasks and processes using invisible decision-tree logic (what Documate calls "invisible logic"). This is where Documate delivered value that they didn’t even know to look for in their initial search for IP document automation software.

The most popular use case we heard about was automate the trademark registration process. In all of these cases, the end to end process looks something like this:

  • Using the workflow as a checklist for the internal team. When a client comes in, the firm uses an internal Documate workflow (like an expert system) to guide the attorney or paralegal on what to do next. The workflow asks basic questions like whether the entity has been formed (is the firm doing entity formation work, too?), what type of entity it is, where the company is located, what type of help they’re looking for. With this logic-based workflow, the paralegal or attorney always follows the same process on what to send the client next.
  • Client intake and onboarding. Client fills out a Documate workflow for the intake and data gathering. This workflow includes embedded videos and images helping guide the client through the data they need to provide to the law firm. When they’re done, it triggers an email to someone in the firm, usually a paralegal.
  • Creating initial documents. With client data in hand, any member of the firm can now generate the correct correspondence and documents, usually starting with form letters and the trademark assignment. They’ve set these up to easily take that initial client data and reuse it for transfers, assignments, licenses, and means of enforcement as the client relationship progresses.
  • Physical review. The document automation process can be as perfect as you set it up to be (it won’t ever forget to change a client name in a template document!). However, most attorneys fully review the documents before they go to a client just in case they want to make any further manual changes. Oftentimes, this second review helps inform the attorney or the template builder on what parts of the process should be automated further. That’s why Documate’s invisible logic feature is so valuable - it allows you to set up rules for even the most complex of edge cases.
That’s why Documate’s invisible logic feature is so valuable - it allows you to set up rules for even the most complex of edge cases.

While most attorneys preferred to use Documate's web form, which is also mobile friendly for clients who may be using tablets or smartphones to send over data, one of the IP firms we spoke with wanted to use Excel as part of their internal data entry process. Data sharing between third party apps and Documate is also possible. So, they set up Excel spreadsheet rows to feed into Documate and automatically generate their documents. Everyone liked the ease of integrating with almost any other solution through both native integrations like Clio and the Documate API.

3.   IP lawyers did post-matter business development through a document automation portal.

Workflows built on Documate are document generator tools that can be built in any area. So, many users create automated form sets that they either sell for a subscription or provide as a package to clients as a benefit of working with the firm.

Three of the attorneys we spoke with set up an automation portal for their clients to access after the initial matter was complete, sometimes for free. The portal contains sets of automated templates like NDAs, proprietary information agreements, software license and consulting agreements. Providing these to the client even when the matter was inactive or less active built a bulletproof relationship and strong brand presence for the law firm. Next time the client needs more work done, they’ll come back to the same firm, because the portal has nurtured that relationship the whole time. In fact, one firm even added a web form as part of the form set on the portal which pings the firm automatically for additional IP work (e.g., new registrations, logos, word marks)

Use the standard NDA generator workflow built on Documate here. If you like it, we can add it to your Documate account, where you'll be able to edit the web form and modify the template documents to meet your clients' needs.
Want to see how you can use Documate for your IP law practice? Sign up for a free trial to play around today, or book a live personalized demo here to speak with our team about your use case.

Photo credit: Flamingo Images

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