Document Automation: What Is It & Why Do Small Law Firms Need It?
February 21, 2014
From the typewriter to the smartphone, word processing has come a long way over the last 30 years. Document automation is just one step in the evolution, but for small law firms, it’s an important step.
So what is document automation?
In the legal field, document automation is a process where standard legal documents (for example forms and letters) are automatically populated using a database. It removes the need to manually type the same information over and over again.
This isn’t necessarily the same thing as ‘document assembly’, although sometimes the two are used interchangeably. What’s the difference? Document assembly typically refers to the creation of complex contracts or forms by stitching together templated text. Document automation on the other hand, uses a database of information to fill details within a document. These details might be a client’s name, their address, dates, phone numbers etc; the type of information pertaining to a matter that is repeatedly keyed into documents.
Both are useful, but for small law firms that produce a high volume of standard forms and ‘less-complex’ documents, the biggest benefits lie in document automation. So, what are these benefits?
The manual process of typing (or cutting and pasting) information into documents is inefficient; a firm can save hours using automation. It also enables small firms to get through more work with the same amount of staff, reducing labor costs.
Time savings = productivity increase = competitive advantage = greater profitability. Ultimately, this is the equation that counts!
Reduced risk of error
Document automation greatly reduces the risk of human error, and potentially malpractice suits. As information comes from a database, the opportunity to mistype or enter the wrong details is removed.
Your documents are your brand, particularly in document-intensive practice areas like family law and real estate. Document automation helps you keep a level of consistency across your forms, letters and templates; which in turn maintains your professional image.
Want to see document automation in action? Watch the Smokeball demo video.