Legal product reviews and business guidance from industry experts.
Documate Expands Automation with Zapier Integration
Document assembly is all about automating the creation of a document or documents. These platforms make it easier to create documents and maintain quality control through field merging, conditional formatting, and workflow assembly. Documate knows that automation is key, and they have enhanced their ability to assist even outside of the platform. With a robust Zapier integration, Documate can help you integrate document assembly into the rest of your workflow.
Build Better with Documate and Zapier
A lot of products integrate with Zapier. Many of them, however, integrate in name only. Their triggers or actions lack depth, and they won’t carry much information from one platform to another. Not Documate. Their Zapier integration sends all the workflow information to the Zap, and ultimately to the connected platform.
Additionally, Documate doesn’t expect your firm to know all the ins and outs of Zapier. Not only does their documentation help you understand their own platform, they have in-depth training on how to use Zapier as well.
Take a look at the video below to see Documate and Zapier in action.
How to Get It
Ready to learn more? Check out our full review of Documate. There you will find community reviews, additional demos, features charts, and more. Remember that Lawyerist subscribers get additional discounts through the Affinity Benefits offered by our partners.
Lawyaw Joins Clio and Bolsters Its Court Forms
In Late 2021, Clio, the Canadian-based Law Practice Management Software, bought the Document Automation Platform, Lawyaw. This increased Clio’s document automation capabilities immensely. Lawyaw, in turn, has increased its offerings at a blistering pace. They’ve already added five states to their court form templates arsenal, with an equal amount on the way.
Lawyaw has known for a long time that attorneys like to use templates, but, generally, don’t have the capacity to maintain them. For years, they have been offering ready-made state and federal court forms in California, as well as immigration templates throughout the country. They’ve earned a reputation for keeping these up to date and making them simple to use.
This fastidiousness takes a lot of effort—and resources. And, until recently, California was the only state built out well enough to offer it to the public.
Since the Clio acquisition, Lawyaw now boasts ready-made forms in California, New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Illinois. And they appear to have plans to continue this trend throughout the United States. As they keep these documents up-to-date on their end, this is a huge boon to any attorney practicing in these jurisdictions.
Lawyaw, as a document automation platform, allows users to fill-out forms in two different ways. First, they have the ready-made court forms. And second, users can create their own custom templates so they can make forms out of their own documents.
Previously, these functions were siloed from each other, so users could not take advantage of both types of documents in one session (i.e. data input into a ready-made form would not be able to fill out a custom template at the same time). With new users, however, this is remedied. The new interface allows users to manipulate court forms at the same time as custom templates. Even adding them to the same template set so they can be automated together.
Take a look at the video below to see more about the new and improved Lawyaw platform.
How to Get It
To learn more about Lawyaw, take a look at our full review. Or, you can sign-up for a free demo at lawyaw.com.
Building Systems with Knackly Document Automation
Automating firm document creation is a useful, and generally simple, way to increase firm productivity. Designing a template and using mail-merge functionality to populate new and individual documents is fundamentally better than using find/replace, or copying and pasting clauses, sentences, or whole documents. Not only is it faster, it’s generally less error prone.
But documents need to be relatively standardized in order to use this method effectively. Law firms who implement templates or mail-merge document automation generally find complex document creation problematic.
Many have—smartly—implemented conditional formatting capabilities, which has allowed them to automate even more complex documents. Even then, however, these firms generally run up against a complexity barrier, where the cost of creating and automating the document is higher than simply using basic methods of copy-paste.
So they revert back to these simple methods with the documents that, arguably, could benefit from automation the most. Ten years ago, this was the right answer. And it may still be for some firms. However, a different method of visualizing document automation could be the solution instead.
When complex documents are needed, law firms should think of solution creation, rather than simple document automation. As Harvard Business School marketing professor, Thoedore Levitt, put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” For lawyers and law firms, clients don’t want documents. They want protection. They want certainty. They want peace-of-mind.
The next step in providing this peace-of-mind to your clients is to create applications that result in documents, rather than applications that fill-out documents. This requires software built for the task at hand. Software that, until recently, was not accessible to the everyday attorney.
This is where Knackly comes in. With Knackly, users create “apps” that build a document, or documents, based on the answers to questions presented. These answers, rather than telling the document what to “print,” tell the application what to do. They can tell an application to include a clause, to manipulate a clause, to add certain documents, or even to run certain equations. The logic is acting on the document rather than in the document.
To be sure, document systems, as described above, can be created directly out of Microsoft Word. Or a separate application can be built to accomplish these same goals. In fact, many people have done this already. But, generally, this has been at great cost to the law firm.
Knackly, on the other hand, is a combination of no code and low code for more complex automation features. Which makes it accessible for most attorneys. But, if you do need the advanced features and you need help, the Knackly team can be your partner to help you automate your documents.
Take a look at the video below to see what Knackly did when we gave them a Tennessee Residential Lease Agreement to automate.
How to Get It
If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our full review. Or you can visit Knackly.io. There, you can get a demonstration of what the software is capable of, and you can talk to a knowledgeable member of the team. When you’re ready to engage them, you’ll go through a jump-start process that will help you determine what your law firm’s document automation needs are. This will also help your firm get its current documents into the Knackly system.
How to DIY Document Assembly
Document assembly (or “document automation,” if you prefer) involves the work you do to create electronic documents. As a lawyer, you probably create electronic documents all day long. Some of you do it by hand, from scratch, every time. Others open the first similar document you can find “on the system” and draft away (you shouldn’t do that, by the way).
But useful tools exist to help you design systems and workflows that use pre-existing text, automate conditional text, and reduce data entry and human error. Some of these tools live inside of your law practice management software or elsewhere. Others support your do-it-yourself document assembly efforts. But the DIY options take a little work, and you probably aren’t sure where to start.
So here are three options to get you started with do-it-yourself document assembly.
Difficulty level: Hard.
Requirements: An Amazon Web Services account or similar.
Time to set up: 2-3 hours.
Upsides: Customizable and secure. Docassemble is an all-in-one solution, so your data is stored in one place. You’ll reduce the risk of client data being intercepted in transit from service to service.
Downsides: Requires some programming knowledge and setup of a virtual machine on a service like Amazon Web Services.
Docassemble is a true all-in-one solution for creating an expert document assembly tool. It is a complete “full-stack” application that can do anything from simple PDF generation to machine learning. It also boasts a massive amount of documentation. If you only want fillable PDF documents, Docassemble is a bit like driving a supercar to the grocery store. But if you need functionality and flexibility, Docassemble is probably the best tool for the job. And if you’re scared off by setting up a virtual machine, Community Lawyer is a handy service that can set up and run Docassemble projects for you.
Typeform + Zapier + Webmerge
Difficulty level: Moderate.
Requirements: Accounts with Typeform, Zapier, and Webmerge.
Time to set up: 1-2 hours.
Upsides: Easy to use and set up, and generally simple for creating basic PDF forms. Can be really affordable (almost free, even), depending on what services you use.
Downsides: Using multiple services means data flow from one service to another. You may want to gauge your risk tolerance for using this system for capturing client data.
Typeform is a survey tool that builds nice, clean, and conversational online forms. Webmerge is a powerful tool for creating fillable PDFs that you can host online. And Zapier is the stationmaster that sends everything where it needs to go. You can create a useful document assembly workflow by chaining these three services together, and can likely do it for free (or close). A critical constraint on this type of workflow is that a small change can mean changing things in three applications instead of just one.
Document Assembly in WordPress
Difficulty level: Moderate.
Time to set up: 1-2 hours.
Upsides: A solution that lives on your existing website, assuming you use WordPress.
Downsides: Cost, primarily, although using conditional logic (which this setup requires) can slow things down considerably, which may be bad for your website’s performance and SEO.
If you run a WordPress site for your law firm, you may want to consider your options for hosting a document assembly tool on your site. There are several alternatives for generating PDFs inside WordPress, although most of them require some subscription fee. Two of the most common are Caldera Forms Pro ($15 to $550 per month) and Gravity Forms PDF (free, but requires Gravity Forms at $60/month). These tools run as plugins on your WordPress site, so setting them up is relatively easy.
The “right” solution for your do-it-yourself document assembly depends on your needs. If you only need to automate one or two forms, something like Typeform + Zapier + Webmerge might work really well for you. But if you are interested in more complex workflows and being able to customize everything fully, Docassemble may be the best choice.
Originally published 2017. Republished 2019-12-09.
Lawyaw Drafts Legal Documents in Just a Few Clicks
Lawyaw is a cloud-based platform that turns Microsoft Word-based legal documents into easy-to-populate online templates using AI, cutting the amount of time you spend on document assembly in half.
While most attorneys have a library of Microsoft Word-based document templates in a folder on their computer, the manual process of generating new documents from those templates can be time-consuming, to say the least.
This process has attorneys digging deep into folders to find a document that best matches the matter at hand, then painstakingly hunting and pecking through that document to make sure every piece of information has been updated.
This old way of working with templates wastes a lot of time and is prone to errors. Meet Lawyaw. By using Lawyaw, you can turn your frequently used Microsoft Word documents into templates that you can fill accurately, twice as fast.
Here’s how Lawyaw helps streamline your document drafting in three easy steps:
Upload your Word documents. First, you’ll upload any Word-based legal documents to your Lawyaw account. Lawyaw turns your documents into fillable templates you’ll be able to use for any client within 24-hours. Lawyaw shows you which part of the document is fillable, and even mentions how many times each piece of information will be used in the document.
Once you’ve uploaded your documents, you’ll be able to see a list of your templates within your account. You can even edit existing or create new templates within the platform.
Generate your documents twice as fast. When you’re ready to generate a document from one of your templates, Lawyaw makes it easy for you. By showing you just the parts of the document that need to be updated, then automatically populating that information into the right place, you’ll get your finished document twice as fast.
If you’ve filled out information for a client previously, Lawyaw remembers and can auto-populate information into your next document, reducing data entry and saving you even more time.
Make your final edits in Word. Finally, once you’ve generated your document, you’ll be able to download a fully formatted Microsoft Word version of your document so you can put on the finishing touches. Take that, sensitive Word formatting!
Unlike that document template folder on your computer, Lawyaw’s online platform allows everyone in your firm to access your templates. Centralized templates mean your team can work together to generate documents more quickly, and maintain brand consistency to help you drive the value of your firm.
Bonus for California attorneys: Lawyaw has over 5,000 California Judicial Council and local court forms in its platform so you can streamline your court form drafting and free up more time to spend with your clients and grow your business. What’s more, Lawyaw is a publisher of the California Judicial Council and instantly updates forms when they’re available, which means you’ll always have access to the most recent court forms.
How to Get it
Lawyaw pricing starts at $99/user/month. It’s an affordable, easy, and powerful tool for document automation.
To learn more about Lawyaw, or to signup for a free trial or free demo, visit lawyaw.com.