How to Prepare Your Firm to Adopt Legal Document Automation
November 9, 2022
Congratulations! You’ve realized that it’s time for your firm to experience the awesome benefits of legal document automation. Get ready to avoid more errors, save more time and create a single system of truth for your firm’s documents.
Remember that even good changes are tough on your law firm, so it’s important to lay the groundwork for success. Follow this quick guide to preparing your law firm for legal document automation, and you’ll be miles ahead when the big day comes.
Assess the cost of switching to new software
Consider your budget when looking at a new software solution. Typically, you’ll pay a fee for migrating and transitioning from your current software to new software. Ask for demos or free trials from vendors so you can test out the features and ease of use before committing to a purchase.
Assess the hidden cost of not switching to new software
Without a legal document automation solution, manual processes can easily introduce errors and data inconsistencies, resulting in lost time and productivity. Outdated software can also lead to security risks and violations of compliance regulations. These consequences can add up to financial losses for your firm, not just from correcting mistakes but also from potential fines and damage to your reputation.
Assess your current document creation process
Start by talking to your staff and getting feedback about their current workflow and document management processes. Take the time to audit your processes and consider making your workflows more efficient. Discuss pain points and specific needs for a software solution to guide your research and decision-making as you evaluate different options. And by involving staff in the selection process, you will improve adoption and buy-in when it comes time to implement the new software.
Get buy-in from your team
Achieving buy-in from staff can often be challenging when they’ve been practicing for a long time. They may feel like their way is just fine and you don’t need to change it. But automation can benefit the entire team, not just one individual. Using standardized workflow templates ensures that even if one team member leaves, the rest will still know how to handle specific tasks or transactions. It’s a training/onboarding tool for new staff.
Cloud-based software allows for instant collaboration and communication between team members, resulting in improved organization and productivity.
Commit the time and effort to setup
The old saying is true: You get out what you put in. Legal document automation software is a long-term investment for your team. Factor in this necessary setup time and effort when making the decision to invest. While your firm may face initial inconveniences, the long-term benefits will make the investment worthwhile.
Core features of good document automation vendors
Finding the best document automation software is crucial for your practice. When selecting a software vendor, look for one with a comprehensive form library and the ability to customize your existing documents and letters. Think of your vendor as a partner who can support your team by helping you automate your documents right away.
Some core characteristics of legal document automation software are as follows:
Integrations with Microsoft Word
Smokeball’s Microsoft Word integration allows for quick, accurate generation of both public forms and private firm documents. View all relevant matter information right alongside your document, eliminating the need to constantly switch between programs.
Automated preparation of routine legal documents in seconds
Enable your team to get through more work with the same number of staff, saving both time and money. Smokeball’s powerful integration automatically applies your case details to every client document, so every member of your firm fills in the correct information. And with full version history built in, it’s easy to see who worked on which documents, and when, so you can revert changes if needed.
Remote accessibility and ease of use
If the document you need is sitting on someone’s desktop, you’ll never access it alone. Choose a cloud-based solution so your team can access documents from anywhere, whether you’re working from a cabin in the mountains or in the courtroom. You’ll also want to make sure the software integrates with your current tools and offers an intuitive experience.
Easy searchability across matters
A practice management system with a document management component allows you to search for documents quickly. Document managers can search for folders, titles, and even text in PDF documents, even when you’re in the courtroom.
A vendor that partners with your law firm
Okay, this one isn’t a feature, but it’s an important part of the package. Your vendor’s support can make or break your success in automating previously tedious processes at your firm. When looking for document automation software, finding a vendor to give your team, your documents, and your practice the white-glove treatment is important. This means the vendor works with your team to help get you up and running quickly and smoothly. They’re available to answer any questions and help you get the most out of your legal document automation solution. Most importantly, a good vendor is committed to creating a working relationship with your firm even — after you’ve implemented the software.
Common reasons firms are slow to adopt document automation
Smokeball has helped thousands of law firms set up automated document workflows. These are some of the most common issues our law firm clients encounter when implementing new processes. It’s important to remember that feeling unsure or even uncomfortable with a new way of doing things is natural. Open communication and training can help alleviate concerns and get your whole team on board. Despite initial hiccups, document automation leads to increased productivity and efficiency, leading to happier team members and satisfied clients.
‘It’s not perfect, so let’s do this manually’
It’s understandable to be frustrated with imperfect legal document automation. But your manual process is not guaranteed to be perfect either. Working with legal document automation often requires a bit of trial and error, especially if you’re navigating new software alone. That’s why Smokeball’s client services team helps upload, templatize and automate your documents. Embrace the potential flaws and take advantage of all the timesaving benefits document automation has to offer.
‘But my way works just fine’
Experience is a valuable asset. By adopting a new process, you are creating the ability to scale your proven process. Ensure consistency, efficiency and an all-around easier process with the powerful one-two punch of document automation and human legal expertise.
‘We don’t have time to set this up’
Your workload never ends, and it feels easier to just do the work instead of spending time setting up automation. While it may be tempting to put document automation on the back burner, creating and utilizing templates saves you time and money in the long run. If your team is overwhelmed with implementing document automation, partner with a vendor who will support your team.
Does this sound like you?
As we mentioned earlier, getting your entire team on board is part of the challenge of preparing for legal document automation. Along with the steps above, here are some great resources for assuaging fears, setting expectations, and choosing the right software to ensure success:
- Guide to Implementing or Changing Legal Software
- Law Firm Document Automation: The Basics
- Six Steps to Better Document Management
- Document Automation Tips
Smokeball goes above and beyond when it comes to legal document automation. Our team builds specific matter types for every area of law and carefully constructs the corresponding form fields. And if you’d like even more customization, we’ll automate your existing documents for you, so you can start experiencing the benefits of legal document automation right away.
Ready to get your law firm automated? Download our complete guide to law firm automation here >>
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Read online or download our free e-book, Tips and Tricks for Legal Document Automation
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