Document automation, for lawyers, is not an absolute necessity, but it’s getting there. And we would certainly suggest it. Using some of the tools in this portal, a firm can to connect with their clients more quickly, generate intake materials with less effort, or even create pleadings at the touch of a button.
Legal document automation products can range from simple form-fill products, like mail-merge, to complex computable documents that can change based on the needs of each client. You can use them internally for document creation workflows, or externally to gather information from your client.
Some Law Practice Management Software (LPMS) provide built-in document creation and management, but they are usually not as feature-rich as the stand-alone products like the ones listed below. Additionally, many of the products here are low or “no code,” which means that you don’t have to have a computer science degree to use them.
In this Document Automation for Lawyers portal you can compare features, read community reviews, get additional details, and find the best application for your law firm. If you see an Affinity Partner badge, it means Lawyerist Insiders are entitled to a discount. (Already a member? Log in here. If not, register here—it’s free!)
How to Choose Legal Document Automation Products
It’s not always easy to find the right document automation software for your law practice. We suggest you start your search by thinking about what sort of legal documents you want to automate. Then, think about what your system looks like after you incorporate the software into your existing legal tech stack. How does this software help your firm? The questions below should provide some guidance.
How complex of a system do you need?
Start by thinking about your end product. What sort of documents do you need to create. Be specific. Before you can make an informed decision about your legal document automation software, you need to know what you want to create. This will help you determine whether you simply need an add-on to Microsoft Word, something that integrates with your LPMS, or a stand-alone third-party system that provides high level functionality.
How complex of a system can you have?
A lawyer’s second consideration for his or her document automation software should be to determine what their coding ability is. Or whether they are willing to hire a third-party to set their system up. Although many products do not require any formal coding experience, some of them are closer to actual programming than others. You’ll need to determine who will be setting up your system, and what their experience level is. It may be you. And the answer may be “none.” Which is fine. Just choose accordingly.
How does your document automation fit into your existing legal tech stack?
After you answer these initial questions, you’ll need to consider how your new software fits into your existing technology. Do you want it to integrate with your LPMS? Will it create documents in a format you are familiar with? Where does it store the information it generates? Where does it get its information from?
Document Management & Automation (Alphabetical List)
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- Our review of Community.Lawyer, a powerful low-code document assembly platform for lawyers with client-facing capabilities. Learn more about Community.Lawyer.
- HotDocs is a powerful document automation program that lets users create complex documents and will scale as a firm grows. Learn more about HotDocs.
- Our review of Knackly, a legal document automation platform that requires little to no coding experience to create smart documents. Learn more about Knackly.
- Our review of Lawyaw finds low-code document review software that maintains most of the conditional formatting functionality of MS Word. Learn more about Lawyaw.
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Document Management & Automation Feature Descriptions
Open API. An open API means that the program has an application programming interface that will allow it to directly integrate with other software programs such your firm's timekeeping, accounting, or custom relationship management software.
Version Control. This means the software provides information on document revisions and makes sure you are using the most recent version of a template.
Document Automation Features. Document automation (also called document assembly) software uses your document templates and information from a form or other source, like your law practice management software or CMS, to assemble documents for you.
Document Templates. The document management program creates resuable templates.
Guided Interviews. The program can create a guided interview and then use the client's answers to automatically create a document.
Conditional Logic. If the software uses conditional logic, this means that you can choose to have certain text in your assembled document included only under certain conditions
Tables. This means the software can generate tables of any size and place them in your assembled document.
Calculations. If this field is checked, it means the software can perform calculations based on numerical or text input.