Best Practices for Legal Document Automation

For any mature in-house legal team or high-performing law firm, legal document automation is an essential part of company-wide efficiency. Allowing for signature-ready documents in record time, document automation offers consistency both internally and when presenting to clients. With document automation, legal professionals can reduce the risk of error by systemizing their knowledge management and establish precedents within the automated system that aligns the entire department.

In Athennian’s webinar on legal document automation, 64% reported that they would be starting a document automation project in the next 12 months. For many in the legal industry, adopting new tech practices can be daunting. Still, as reflected by the webinar’s guest panelist, Karen DiMartino (Cassels LLP), investing in doc auto was like, “building a puzzle. [First], make sure you flip all the pieces over to get started, build your border, then some trial & error to put everything together. But it is beautiful when it comes together [and you] get the green checkmark that your document has been generated correctly.”

If you fall into the 64% of legal professionals planning on starting a document automation project, here are some tips and best practices for ensuring that your endeavor is successful. 

Be Strategic About What Can Be Automated

Technology can only build logic off data points, so it is critical to ensure that your documents are repeatable. If a clause is going to be different every time, there is less value in trying to automate it. However, documents with repeatable options and corresponding data points for determining the appropriate language are ideal for automation projects. 

Pay Attention to the Details

Even if all the data and the logic works, legal professionals can still get stuck with fixing formatting–– and it can make a huge impact. From the font, alignment, adjusting signing blocks, or formatting numbers with commas or decimals, the little details matter and can easily overwhelm with how quickly they add up. 

Invest in the Scope of the Project 

With document automation, most find that doing through initial preparation saves more time than going back later to fix mistakes in a template. Before starting, it is essential to examine your intentions from a 360 view. Why are you doing this? What are your intended business outcomes? Developing a clear starting point and execution plan ensures that you’ve taken the time to research and prepare for a successful project, and saves you valuable time later. 

Questions to consider before starting: 

  • What is your formatting style guide? 
  • How many different variations of a document are there?
  • What data points will you use?
  • Do you want to package some documents together or have them separate?

Start Simple to Perfect the Workflow

Begin your project with simple, high-volume templates that will bring you the greatest return on investment. With simple templates, it’s easy to ensure that you have all the necessary data points. Better to save the 30-page share purchase agreement with 15 variations until you’re really comfortable with the coding process and have experience automating multiple workflows.

Watch “Mastering Legal Document Automation” On-Demand

For more information and best practices, watch Athennian’s webinar, “Mastering Legal Document Automation.” There you’ll find in-depth advice and hear firsthand how a paralegal with a limited coding background was able to fully commit her team to legal document automation, saving both time and money.

Legal Document Automation

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