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Document Automation That Resides Where You Work and Store Data

By TechnoLawyer | Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers document assembly software that you can use within other applications such as your document or practice management system (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of case management software that runs on Windows, Android, and iOS with features, customization options, and integrations that acknowledge today's world, an online marketplace for finding contract lawyers without running afoul of ethics rules, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Document automation software should be as common in law firms as word processing software. It solves several once intractable problems — creating documents faster, reducing errors, using data that already resides in other systems and ensuring regulatory compliance when applicable. One company believes what's preventing wider adoption is where users access it.

HotDocs Hub and HotDocs Developer 11 … in One Sentence

AbacusNext's HotDocs Hub and HotDocs Developer 11, the new version of the granddaddy of document assembly platforms with 60% market share, focuses on making template authoring and third-party integrations easier.

The Killer Feature

Traditionally, when you needed to generate a document from a HotDocs template, you would open HotDocs on the desktop. You can still do this but HotDocs' new integration tools (a "REST API") enable you to incorporate it into applications that house your client data. With HotDocs serving as middleware, users at your firm may not even realize they're using HotDocs.

The most obvious front end for your HotDocs templates is your practice management system, which can autofill fields such as client name and address, opposing counsel, etc. AbacusNext's practice management products — Amicus Attorney and AbacusLaw — integrate with minimal setup. But as Global Sales Director Gary Eunson stresses, you can incorporate HotDocs into many third-party practice management systems not to mention document management systems.

The HotDocs Professional Services group can assist you with integrations and create templates for you. "Operational efficiency is still a critical issue for law firms of all sizes," says Eunson. "Creating legal documents using our market leading document automation technology provides value, not only for the law firm, but for the clients it serves."

Other Notable Features

Getting started involves a Content Author (someone at your firm or a consultant) using HotDocs Developer to create templates for all the documents your firm regularly creates. You build templates using elements such as text fields, date variables, true/false and multiple-choice dialogs, clause selectors, math formulas, etc.

Completed templates then reside in the new HotDocs Hub cloud repository, which also offers tools for user management. Version control enables you to keep all template versions and rollback changes. Template Groups collect related templates such as those for a practice group in your firm. Integration with Active Directory and other identity systems enable users to access templates. You can host HotDocs Hub behind your firewall, through HotDocs' hosting services, or with Abacus Private Cloud.

Users access templates via their browser. The main tab contains the "interview" as HotDocs calls it — essentially a form. The middle tab offers a realtime preview of the document being built. The third tab lists all the data entered into the interview. When finished, choose from formats such as Word, WordPerfect, PDF, etc., and HotDocs automatically saves the document to your practice or document management system per the integrations discussed above.

What Else Should You Know?

"HotDocs is the quintessential software for document automation," says Michael Savage, operations manager at Baugher Law Firm PLLC. "It's very robust and the possibilities are endless. Generating documents and pleadings now take a fraction of the time they normally would using any other software. I highly recommend this product." Learn more about HotDocs Hub and HotDocs Developer 11.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | TL NewsWire

AbacusLaw Goes Beyond the Practice Management Status Quo With Client Intake, Court Rules Calendaring, and Legal Accounting

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, June 21, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an accounting and practice management system that automates client intake, rules-based calendaring, and document creation (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a corporate messaging service that automatically saves discussions and shared documents to NetDocuments, a Microsoft Word add-in that scores your briefs and offers a spellchecker-like tool which suggests corrections and stylistic improvements, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Why is Elon Musk so focused on rocket launches? Because with space travel everything stems from the launch. Now think about your cases. They all start with intake, a process that many practice management systems ignore. But shouldn't intake be a priority?

AbacusLaw … in One Sentence

AbacusNext's AbacusLaw is a popular practice management and legal accounting system with customizable intake tools, court rules calendaring, Outlook integration, and a mobile app.

The Killer Feature

AbacusLaw has an Intake button on its toolbar, which underscores the company's reverence for this aspect of law practice. Click this menu, choose the applicable PALS or Practice Area Legal Solution, and begin entering information about your new matter. AbacusLaw offers PALS for all major practice areas. Each PALS consists of special fields, reports, document templates, and smart intake forms. You can customize a PALS to fit your needs, and create entirely new PALS for niches within your practice.

The intake forms in each PALS are "smart" because they automatically check for duplicate data and link to related information. These forms populate all areas of the software, obviating the need to enter data in multiple locations. Instead of entering all the data yourself, you can have clients, witnesses, and others securely enter information into these forms on your website. You can still take advantage of this automation even if you create a matter the old-fashioned way. Just assign a PALS to the matter and all the associated fields and forms appear for data entry.

Other Notable Features

Rules-based deadline calendaring for litigation matters is another area most practice management systems ignore. By contrast, AbacusLaw includes calendar rules for civil actions in federal courts and most state courts. The calendar rules for California even include specialty courts such as family law. You can set up the applicable rules as part of an intake form or do it later after filing a complaint. The rules calculate all deadlines, and automatically adjust them as continuances and other delays occur.

AbacusLaw also offers automation for transactional practice areas with its built-in document assembly. Choose from dozens of bundled forms and create your own (AbacusNext provides training). After choosing a form, assign it to a matter, fill it out, and generate a Word, WordPerfect, or PDF document for further editing and sharing.

In addition to managing your legal work, AbacusLaw also manages your finances with a full accounting system — general ledger, accounts payable, trust accounting, and of course billing. Every screen in AbacuLaw has a Time Tix button that can start a timer or record a time entry. Reports include all those you would expect, which you can customize. You can also create your own reports.

Because AbacusLaw is matter-centric, you can access all information related to a matter in one place, including calendar events, contacts, documents, and invoices. If you use Outlook, you can also save relevant email to a matter using AbacusLaw's add-in. With the free mobile app, you can access your matters on the go.

"Designed for lawyers, easy to use, and powerful, AbacusLaw helps me manage my practice and do my billing," says Delaware solo practitioner Thomas Shellenberger. "The calendar coordinates well with Outlook and my mobile device."

What Else Should You Know?

Most law firms use AbacusLaw via Abacus Private Cloud, AbacusNext's virtual desktop service. You can host AbacusLaw at your firm if you prefer. Learn more about AbacusLaw.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

Clients to Law Firms: Automate or Die Plus 53 More Must-Reads

By TechnoLawyer | Monday, June 18, 2018

Coming today to BlawgWorld: Our editorial team has selected the 54 best legal technology articles, podcasts, and videos from the past week. Below you'll find a sampling from today's issue, including our BlawgWorld Pick of the Week. BlawgWorld is free so don't miss the next issue — sign up now.

Congratulations to Richard Tromans of Artificial Lawyer on winning our BlawgWorld Pick of the Week award: Law Firms are Inefficiency Factories, Automation is the Cure

Replace Internal Email With ndThread

Microsoft Is Redesigning the Office User Interface

More on the Microsoft Office Redesign

How Siri Shortcuts Can Revolutionize iOS Automation

Shortcuts: A New Vision for Siri and iOS Automation

How to Receive BlawgWorld
Our newsletters provide the most comprehensive coverage of both legal technology and mainstream technology of interest to the legal profession. But not the only coverage. BlawgWorld enables you to stay on top of all the noteworthy legal and mainstream technology articles (and podcasts and videos) published elsewhere without having to hire a research assistant. Even when you're busy, you won't want to miss each issue's Pick of the Week. Subscribe now for free.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | BlawgWorld Newsletter | Coming Attractions | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets

Reviews of Zola Suite, Smokeball, Epson WorkForce ES-500W Scanner

By TechnoLawyer | Friday, May 18, 2018

Today's issue of TL Serendipity contains these articles:

Stephen Silverberg, Review of Zola Suite for Integrated Accounting and Practice Management

Ted Alatsas, Review of Smokeball for Practice Management Plus Cloud Storage

Scott Lawson, Review of Epson WorkForce ES-500W Scanner

Don't miss this issue — or any future issues.

How to Receive TL Serendipity
Our most serendipitous offering (hence its name), TL Serendipity consists of contributions by TechnoLawyer members who have important information to share. You'll no doubt enjoy it because of its mix of interesting topics and genuinely useful knowledge, including brutally honest product reviews and informative how-tos. The TL Serendipity newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Coming Attractions | Copiers/Scanners/Printers | Online/Cloud | Practice Management/Calendars

Reviews of Firm Central With Deadline Assistant, Kanban Tool, Asana, Swift ToDo, HotDocs Market, PhantomPDF Business, TextMagic; iPad Pro Woes

By TechnoLawyer | Friday, April 6, 2018

Today's issue of TL Serendipity contains these articles:

Michael Kelly, My Task Management Portfolio: Reviews of Firm Central With Deadline Assistant, Kanban Tool, Asana, Swift ToDo

Thomas F. McDow, Review of HotDocs Market With Surface Pro and iPad

Austin Wilkerson, Review of PhantomPDF Business

Jason Pink, Review of TextMagic

John Root, Problems Using an iPad Pro to Draft Legal Documents

Don't miss this issue — or any future issues.

How to Receive TL Serendipity
Our most serendipitous offering (hence its name), TL Serendipity consists of contributions by TechnoLawyer members who have important information to share. You'll no doubt enjoy it because of its mix of interesting topics and genuinely useful knowledge, including brutally honest product reviews and informative how-tos. The TL Serendipity newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Business Productivity/Word Processing | Collaboration/Knowledge Management | Coming Attractions | Email/Messaging/Telephony | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | TL Serendipity

Add Document Assembly Tools to Microsoft Word’s Ribbon

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, March 29, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers document assembly software that resides within Microsoft Word and offers a simplified way to create templates versus traditional products (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of practice management software that transforms legal billing from a multi-day process into one that takes minutes, a Microsoft Outlook add-in that predicts where to file your email and even lets you know when a colleague has beat you to it and already filed the same message, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Traditional document assembly software outputs a Microsoft Word document. But you don't work within Word. Instead, you must either master the intricacies of the document assembly software or hire a consultant. A new alternative seeks to flatten the learning curve.

Word DA … in One Sentence

Infoware's Word DA adds document assembly tools to Microsoft Word, and optionally integrates with sibling add-in Word LX Professional or Word LX Enterprise for enhanced functionality.

The Killer Feature

Word DA resides in the Microsoft Word Ribbon. The clauses you regularly use when drafting reside in Microsoft Word documents. These "Templates" as they're called use Word's styles to categorize the clauses. A template can also consist of an entire document such as a trust, will, etc. that doesn't require the use of different components each time.

You create data fields (a.k.a. variables) within clauses and document templates by placing square brackets around placeholder text. Word DA replaces these data fields with the information you provide during the drafting process. For example, the data field "[Client Last Name]" would be replaced by your client's last name everywhere it appears. You need only enter the last name once when prompted.

You assemble documents from stored clauses using Word DA's Clause Tool. This three-pane window lists available clauses on the left, a preview on the bottom, and the clauses you've selected on the right. After adding clauses, you can change their order and preview the document you're about to create. When you're all set, one click combines the selected clauses into a Word document.

"Our Word DA document assembly tools provide firms with an easier way to build and manage their content while designing templates that incorporate logic and intelligence to quickly automate document creation," says Michael Barrons, Infoware's Vice President Marketing & Operations. "Our tools live within Microsoft Word, providing a simple and extremely cost-effective solution that saves legal professionals time and improves document quality and accuracy."

Other Notable Features

Many small and midsize law firms use both Word DA and Word LX Professional. The latter, which we covered previously in TL NewsWire, features a number of tools to ensure document consistency across your firm. These tools reside on the Ribbon alongside Word DA.

One such tool — Prompt — enhances the functionality of the data fields in Word DA templates by storing the information you enter. This enables you to make a change (e.g., correct a misspelling) and update that field throughout the document. The Prompt tool lists all data fields in a panel, making it faster to enter and update the fields than using Word DA alone.

Word LX's Template Designer enables you to create Word DA templates with your firm's logo and address, preferred margins, typeface styles, etc. Word LX also makes it easier to access frequently-used templates. You can even add dedicated template icons to the Ribbon. After using Word DA to create a document, Word LX can make quick work of many formatting tasks, including consistent paragraph numbering and styles, adding a DocID, and generating a table of contents.

What Else Should You Know?

Word DA costs $150 per user per year standalone (less if bundled with Word LX). Infoware helps you get up and running, including training for those at your firm who will maintain templates and create new ones. Learn more about Word DA.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Coming Attractions | TL NewsWire

Improve the Consistency of Your Firm's Documents and Reduce the Time It Takes to Create Them

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, November 2, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a Microsoft Word add-in that enforces firm standards through automated document creation, including data connections to Outlook, document management systems, and other software (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a legal research service that automatically locates statements of law in cases and directs you to the best authority for each of them, a specialized legal research service for trade secrets, including coverage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 and tools for comparing jurisdictions, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

The larger your firm, the more difficult it becomes to maintain efficiency and document quality. This relates both to the time it takes to create certain document types and the way they look. The secret is to enhance Microsoft Word and better integrate it with your other software.

Word LX Enterprise … in One Sentence

Infoware's Word LX Enterprise is a Microsoft Word add-in that automates document drafting tasks, and enforces your firm's work product guidelines.

The Killer Feature

When your firm pulls the trigger on Word LX, Infoware works closely with your implementation team to create all the document templates you'll need at the outset. Just as importantly, Infoware integrates Word LX with your existing software to further enhance document automation. For example, Word LX can retrieve contact information from practice management software and Document IDs from your document management system.

Out of the box integrations include Active Directory, Outlook (including Office 365 and Exchange), InterAction, iManage, OpenText, Amicus Attorney, PCLaw, and Time Matters. If you use products for which an integration doesn't exist, Infoware can build one using its API.

"Any law firm that wants to improve their document creation process should take a close look at Word LX," says Ivaylo Nikolov, Director, Information Technology at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg. "For many years, we've relied on it for increasing the efficiency of our staff and lawyers, and maintaining the accuracy of our documents."

Other Notable Features

Word LX resides in Microsoft Word's Ribbon. Click the LX New Docs button to view a customized dialog box, the top left of which lists templates for the most common document types — typically Letter, Memo, Envelope, Labels, etc. Use one of these or search for more specific template such as one related to a practice area (Word LX calls these "precedents").

Selecting a template or precedent unfurls additional options. These variations can accommodate different practice groups, offices, languages, paper size requirements, etc. Thanks to the Active Directory integration, users can create documents on behalf of others such as their boss. Personal settings enable you to control the zoom level and other niceties.

Once you finalize these options, a custom form appears. Here you can import data from connected applications per the integrations noted above. You also choose from a number of predefined options. For example, the Letter template offers choices for delivery method, salutation, cc/bcc, closing, and more.

When you need to print a document, Word LX's MultiPrint tool incorporates all of your firm's idiosyncrasies. Examples include printing final versions from the letterhead tray, applying stamps such as Draft or Copy, outputting a corresponding envelope, and creating a PDF version simultaneously for emailing or filing.

Word LX seeks to end the heartbreak associated with paragraph numbering and styles with a range of prebuilt options designed to work reliably. Infoware can create customized versions for your firm. CEO Dan Sharp tells us that Word LX offers more customization options than any competing product.

Other Word LX tools similarly improve on Word's native functions, including page numbers, section breaks, tables of authorities and contents, exhibit indexes, signature lines, headers and footers, and more.

What Else Should You Know?

"Our goal is to make document creation faster and easier for the legal profession," says Sharp. "Our solutions optimize and extend Microsoft Word with tools that are easier to use and that are more specific to the task of creating legal documents." Learn more about Word LX Enterprise.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Business Productivity/Word Processing | TL NewsWire

Type Only Your Legal Insights and Automate the Rest

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, October 12, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a customizable, multiuser text entry automation utility that runs in Windows, Mac, and iOS applications (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a popular cloud practice management system that now offers a full-featured mobile app, a chat system, and payment processing, a service that enables you to analyze IP portfolios for M&A due diligence, litigation strategy, and prior art research, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Legal drafting involves a constant battle between precision and time spent. While hard enough for one lawyer to balance, it becomes even more of a challenge to scale across a law firm. Automating boilerplate language enables everyone at your firm to use carefully crafted language in a few keystrokes, ensuring consistency across work product.

TextExpander … in One Sentence

Smile's TextExpander is an automation tool for quickly entering frequently-used text in any application on Windows, Mac, and iOS.

The Killer Feature

TextExpander offers cloud-based administration tools. This enables everyone in your law firm to benefit from centrally managed "Snippets" — Smile's term for TextExpander's text automations — on all their supported devices.

TextExpander computes statistics so that you can see which snippets have the highest usage, and how much time your staff saves en masse. Sales and Business Development Manager Mike Burda tells me that the average TextExpander user saves one hour per day on average assuming a typing speed of 60 words per minute.

"I use TextExpander for many things in my practice — including responding to discovery," says lawyer Stewart Albertson of Albertson & Davidson in a blog post. "I have over 60 objection "snippets," including attorney-client privilege, work product doctrine, calls for expert's opinion from a lay person, etc. Before TextExpander I used to cut and paste from a template of objections. While this works, in my experience it takes much longer and it is easy to get lost in a large response file. As you can imagine, using TextExpander speeds the process up for responding to written discovery. Give it a try."

Other Notable Features

At its most basic, TextExpander enables you to type a shortcut such as "sig" in conjunction with a hot key of your choosing to enter your email signature snippet at the end of a message in Outlook. Snippets can contain rich text formatting, hyperlinks, images, and even HTML. They can span many paragraphs such as an entire engagement letter. You need not memorize TextExpander shortcuts. Instead, you can use another hot key to view a list on the fly and search through them. Your firm's TextExpander administrators can organize snippets into folders to make it easier for users to find the one they need.

More advanced snippets can incorporate conditional text. Such text appears next to a checkbox that controls whether to include it or not. For example, you may not want to include your mobile number in your signature every time so you can omit it by default unless you check its box. Additionally, snippets can perform date and other calculations, prompt you to enter data or choose an option from a menu, remove formatting of text on the clipboard, complete forms, etc.

Snippets can incorporate other snippets. With these "Nested Snippets," your administrator could reference a marketing snippet within each user's signature snippet. This would enable your firm to consistently promote whatever it wants in everyone's signature without users having to do anything.

What Else Should You Know?

TextExpander Team costs $7.96 per user per month billed annually ($9.99 otherwise). The Life Hacker plan for single users costs $3.33 per month billed annually ($4.16 otherwise). You pay only for active users and can accrue credits. The administrator tools provide control over access rights. Learn more about TextExpander.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | TL NewsWire | Utilities

Focus on Your Work, Not the Clock, With Smokeball

By TechnoLawyer | Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a practice management system with a large forms library that automatically captures the billable time you spend on document drafting and email (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a cloud practice management and accounting system that now includes free credit card processing via LawPay, a cloud practice management system with a new document management component that works locally on PCs and Macs like a network drive, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Accurate time tracking empowers law firms. Those that bill by the hour can maximize earnings while those that charge fixed fees can evaluate their profitability and staff efficiency. But how can you prevent lost billable time given human nature?

Smokeball … in One Sentence

Smokeball is a practice management and document assembly system that recently gained a new automatic time capture feature.

The Killer Feature

Attorney and Smokeball Legal Technology Content Manager Joshua Taylor walks me through a typical stretch of time in a law firm, drafting documents, sending and receiving email, etc. He then clicks on the AutoTime button in Smokeball's toolbar.

Not only does Smokeball capture the time spent on this work, but it creates nearly final time entries. Smokeball itemizes each task, connects it to the corresponding matter and creates a description of the work (e.g., Letter to Law Office of Arthur Kirkland). You review these entries, make any necessary edits, and post them if you bill by the hour. Every night, Smokeball emails you a report listing all your captured time for the previous day broken down by matter.

Early adopters of Smokeball's automatic legal time tracking software feature have captured 34% more time on average. "Smokeball has increased my law firm's profitability by over 30%," says Joshua Boehm, partner at Cottonwood Law Group, LC. Smokeball's Law Firm Insights report enables you to measure the impact of automatic time tracking at your firm, and prove time worked in the event a client transfers his case to another firm. The report breaks out time spent and cost for each employee.

Other Notable Features

Smokeball is a hybrid product, combining the capabilities of a native Windows client with the convenience of unlimited cloud data storage. This gives you the ability to work without an internet connection. The Windows client allows for tight integration with Microsoft Office. When you open a potential matter, choose from more than 250 Matter Types with all the information fields you're likely to need. Smokeball also runs a conflict check. Smokeball's mobile app gives you access to your practice on the go.

Smokeball's Legal Tasks and Workflows enable you to capture your firm's processes. A Workflow consists of a set of tasks, each of which is assigned to an attorney or staff member. You can create task dependencies, and generate due dates based on triggers.

Many law firm tasks involve document automation. Smokeball offers more than 14,000 legal forms and can help add your own during the onboarding process. Smokeball automatically enters information from the extensive set of matter fields. You can email completed documents directly from Smokeball and generate a PDF with one click. A clever feature lists the contacts associated with the matter, which saves time and prevents misaddressed messages. Alternatively, you can attach documents in Smokeball from Outlook. Either way, Smokeball saves all email in the matter, including replies.

What Else Should You Know?

"Smokeball helps small law firms increase the profitability of their matters," said Jane Oxley, Smokeball's President. "By providing our clients with features like full visibility into matter profitability and the most robust Microsoft Outlook and Word integrations in the industry, we help attorneys spend less time on administrative tasks, and get back to practicing law." Learn more about Smokeball.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

Drafting Assistant Adds Document Assembly, Expert Forms, and More to Its Microsoft Word Drafting Tools

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, August 17, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a Microsoft Word add-in for drafting litigation and transactional documents with a new document assembly engine, forms library, and machine-learning tools (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a new legal research service that use artificial intelligence to keep you apprised of new federal legislation and regulations, an AI-powered legal research technology that provides fast answers to common legal questions, including definitions, elements of a claim, and standards of proof, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

The briefs and contracts you draft often break new ground and benefit from your legal expertise. But just as often they incorporate material that already exists. And they always contain precise syntax that is time consuming to manually proofread. As a result, drafting benefits from automation — ideally a suite of tools within Microsoft Word.

Drafting Assistant … in One Sentence

Thomson Reuters' Drafting Assistant adds document assembly, reference, and proofreading tools to Microsoft Word (there's also a Drafting Assistant web app).

The Killer Feature

The new Build Document feature offers document assembly technology and a library of expert templates via integrations with Contract Express and Practical Law respectively. You start by selecting one of your own templates or a Practical Law template. Either way, you then use Contract Express' technology to enter data into the form fields to build your document.

Drafting Assistant can save your work at any point in case you need to hunt down some information or conduct research. Click the My Projects button to view recent documents, both completed and in progress. The Practical Law template library encompasses 12 practice areas, including antitrust, bankruptcy, commercial transactions, intellectual property, litigation, and real estate.

Other Notable Features

Drafting Assistant resides in a tab in Microsoft Word's Ribbon. Clicking the Drafting button opens a panel alongside your Word document that contains Build Document and other tools. Among these is the new Locate Precedent tool. Powered by machine learning, Locate Precedent enables you to compare a provision drafted by you or opposing counsel against publicly filed agreements in EDGAR. If you find a phrasing you prefer, you can add it to the document.

Also in the Drafting Assistant panel are a variety of tools for litigators, including the Locate Authority tool, which uses machine-learning technology similar to that of Locate Precedent. Select an argument in your brief and Locate Authority finds a supporting citation that you can add in your preferred style with a click. Flags & Links enables you to spot negative KeyCite signals for authorities you're citing. Alternatively, WestCheck creates a KeyCite report of all authorities in a separate document.

Other litigation tools include TOA Builder to build a table of authorities and Authority Compiler to a create PDF ebrief. "Drafting Assistant makes creating tables of authorities quick and easy," said Sarah Mauldin, Director of Library Services at Smith, Gambrell & Russell. "I like getting to look a bit like a magician by using a tool that transforms a painful process into one that is much less onerous."

Rounding out the suite of tools is Deal Proof, which has its own dedicated button in the Drafting Assistant ribbon tab. Deal Proof finds potential errors in your document such as undefined terms, unused terms, inconsistent paragraph numbering, punctuation errors, etc. Like a spell checker, Deal Proof now updates in real time as you make corrections.

What Else Should You Know?

Until this year Drafting Assistant required Windows. The Mac version will launch later this year, initially with Flags & Links and WestCheck followed by more tools in the future. "Mac users will have access to two of the most used features from Drafting Assistant," said Craig Larson, Vice President, Productivity Solution at Thomson Reuters. "Drafting Assistant provides a full range of solutions that improve efficiency and streamline document drafting workflows, validate citations, and perform other critical drafting tasks no matter where users are or what computing platform they are using." Learn more about Drafting Assistant.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Legal Research | TL NewsWire
 
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