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My generation: document automation tools for lawyers

If you're constructing documents from templates and clause libraries with the capacity to make global changes, you'll be generating those documents much faster than you would by making edits manually, or via homespun remedies. I recently interviewed HotDocs' chief technology officer Lowell Stewart concerning some additional advantages of document generation (you can listen to that audio, here). But my sense is that I'm likely preaching to the converted. Most lawyers want to manage their documents better. They just don't know where to start.

Fortunately, there are a number of applications available, at various price points, and across platforms. There is the aforementioned HotDocs, which is used in the legal environment. But, at an even more basic level, most lawyers have built-in document- and email-building tools that they are unaware of. Between Microsoft's QuickParts and Outlook Signatures, tools are already in place (delivered by a near-ubiquitous office suite system) for lawyers to more quickly work up documents and emails.

The Form Tool is a relatively inexpensive program that integrates with Microsoft Word. For those with more upscale tastes for document generation and management applications, NetDocuments (reviewed here) and Brightleaf (reviewed here) are popular choices, as is Worldox. And, lest the Mac set feel left out, these are some popular programs in that line: XpressDoxTurnerDraftOnce, MacSimplePrompterFileMaker Pro and Daylite, which is more of a practice management utility with some limited document management features. Most attorneys use Daylite in conjunction with HotDocs, which is available on the Mac. (If you're looking for more information about using Apple products in your law firm, check out LOMAP's new resource hub: LoMac.)

Let's face it: Working is lame. Working too hard is even lamer. If you can effectively leverage document generation tools, you'll be able to move through, and onto other, projects more quickly.

Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Office Management Assistance Program.

Published February 13, 2014

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