Form automation refers to software or web-based applications that allow small law firms, solo practitioners, and their clients to process and finalize all types of legal documents, from court documents to contracts to transactional filings.
Form automation software and web-based applications allow law firms, lawyers, and their clients to process and finalize all types of legal documents, from court documents to contracts to transactional filings. Such automation is not just the backbone of a paperless office. It’s a way of managing and automating your workflow that’s efficient for you, your firm, and, most importantly, your clients. Law firms save substantial time and money when they integrate automation tools like Documate into their business and practice areas to generate documents like court forms and template documents.
Legal form automation simply makes all aspects of your practice faster. For example, web form automation can create forms with auto-fill capabilities, which removes the need to create documents from scratch (or modify prior documents for new matters).
Web form automation can also generate custom documents based on your client’s direct input, through guided interviews linked to your form automation app.
All of this saves time on front-end document creation and back-end review and editing.
Time savings are also achieved because everything is automatically filed, stored, and instantly retrievable, saving time down the road when you or your employees would otherwise be searching manually for hard-copy documents in your office files.
On the front end, the manual creation and handling of documents is labor intensive, particularly if your business requires secretarial support or junior attorneys, because both need to be trained. Legal form automation reduces or removes all of these costs.
On the back end, as noted above, form automation reduces errors, saving both your firm and your clients money not only as to substantive errors and edits in your hard- of soft-copy documents, but also in terms of time and money spent tracking down documents around the office or on a shared drive.
The potential dollar savings from form automation can be quantified. Some studies have found that every misplaced document costs a business $125 in employee time to locate. Those studies have also found that every lost document costs a business at least $350 to recreate. Form automation saves money by preventing these situations.
In addition to saving small firms and solos substantial time and money in the aggregate, legal form automation provides several additional benefits. First, the time and money that lawyers save means that clients are better served. The firm that automates its document workflow can pass its efficiencies and cost savings on to clients, for a competitive and service edge.
Second, form automation provides unique features that truly benefit both your firm and your clients. Legal forms that are automated are rapidly customizable, both when created and when modified down the road. Many tools also allow for electronic signatures and the instant exchange of drafts and final documents, and also instantly and seamlessly links to secure cloud storage.
Third, automation reduces waste (think especially paper and ink). Fourth, it can improve employee satisfaction, and your satisfaction as well, because secretarial support and junior associates are now free to perform delegated work that is of higher value to the practice.
In a nutshell, this process takes inputs and transforms them into a specific output, starting with the inputs from you or your client and ending with the finished document set. Sophisticated tools can allow you to add complex logic into the workflow and generate documents conditioned on how a user responds. For example, tools like Documate can allow you to set conditional logic so that jurisdiction specific documents are generated only if a user responds in a certain way:
As noted above, the lawyer or the client provides the substantive information, which the form automation software or app processes into customized document templates for the given type of court document or transactional document. The software or app does the heavy lifting behind the scenes, allowing you or your client to interact intuitively with the automation process that generates the document.
The types of legal documents that can be generated through form automation include virtually all of the government and court forms used by lawyers and accountants. Other examples include HR and policy documents inside your firm, court forms and court filings for your litigation clients, and contracts, term sheets, and incorporation filings for your transactional clients. Existing form automation apps can handle exceptionally complex legal document workflows without the user needing to know computer code. As may be seen, legal form automation, also known as no code form and workflow automation, provides lawyers and their clients with many benefits, including but not limited to providing substantial savings in time and money.
If you'd like to see a demo of how Documate handles form automation, pick a time on our demo calendar here.
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