While I have talked at length on hows of Document Automation, I seem to have omitted to talk about the whys. So, with no further ado, here are the top 5 reasons why document automation is valuable, even for you.
Why Document Automation is valuable to you
Reduces drafting time
Fundamentally, this is the point of Document Automation. In its simplest form, Document Automation is about creating a questionnaire that a user can answer to generate a version of the document where the word processing has already been done.
Imagine a world in which you don’t have to comb through the document looking for all the places you need to paste each of those details, conjugating verbs or deleting square brackets. That world is a reality – all you need to do is automate your documents – or subscribe to an existing service.
Exactly how much time it can save you depends on a whole lot of factors from the type of document you’re working on through to how you design your automation. So, I’m not going to give you a hard and fast number on how much time you can save, but it is significant. To give you just one example, according to a 2017 press release, Coca Cola reduced their drafting time from 10 hours to 15 mins – that’s a 97.5% decrease.
Humans have a natural propensity for error, which increases with time spent on an activity and the stress associated with that activity. By Automating a document, you reduce the amount of time humans spend looking at the document itself. So, we can make the best use of our most accurate time where it really matters (see point three).
You can get to the real work faster
Getting the document from precedent form to a viable contract requires more than just word processing – after all, if it were, why would you need a lawyer to do it?
Despite what many have prophesied about automation spelling the end for lawyers, Document Automation is not threatening legal jobs, in fact, it’s improving them (if you’re still sceptical, read this article about the difference between AI and DocAuto). Less time spent copy and pasting means you’re getting to the legal work – the work that you are uniquely qualified to do – faster. Not only is your job more enjoyable (I’m assuming here that it was not the allure of word processing that drew you to field) but you can also do more of it.
In a world where clients are ever more reluctant to pay for hours of administrative work, Document Automation can enable you to draft faster, giving you more time to dedicate to complex legal matters, take on more client work, or give you a better work-life balance – whichever you are in most need.
Saves you from stupid mistakes
We’ve all done it. At some point, you’ve opened up the wrong document, worked on it for two hours just to realise your mistake. Then you’re faced with a choice, redraft two thirds of the document or start again with the correct version of the precedent. Either way, you loose.
In this situation, Document Automation can be your best friend. If it didn’t outright save you from making this mistake in the first place (by asking you questions about the type of transaction you’re drafting for) then you’ve only wasted the ten or so minutes it took you to get to a version of the document where you realised you’re using the wrong template.
The higher the pressure, the more common and more costly these mistakes are – at least in a personal sense, if not in a direct cost to the business.
While small law has been the fastest to embrace new technology – out of a need for the fee earners to do more with their time – Document Automation offers a unique advantage for larger law firms.
The standardisation the tools offer, both in terms of working and presentation are an excellent way of ensuring compliance across multiple locations. This can be particularly valuable following a merger, when the newly formed firm is looking to ensure compliance with your newly agreed standards and styles when people have been used to working in a different way for so long.
So, your risk team should like document automation, too – at least in principle.
So, why are people still so reluctant?
Despite all this, Doc Auto is still underutilised, even when firms have invested hugely in it. In my experience, those lawyers that are resistant to Document Automation don’t reject the principal. Rather, they cannot see how the tools can help them.
This is all very well and good, but these aren’t millennial we’re talking about here. These special snowflakes are predominantly these are GenX and Xennials; well established professionals, reaching the zenith of their careers. Yes, what you do is special and unique and only you can do it. but couldn’t you do it better, if only you didn’t have to waste time worrying about the five points above? Document Automation is valuable for you, too, and can help you work better.