The ILTA Conference has begun here in Nashville. I’ll be attending as many of the sessions as I can (there are so many to choose from). The first session I attended was a Knowledge Management Peer Group Steering Committee sponsored session called Advances in Document Assembly.
Here is the info from ILTA followed by my brief notes. Please forgive the typos (I’m typing away quickly just to get the thoughts down on “paper”).
Advances in Document Assembly
Description: While document assembly applications have been around for a few years, adoption has been relatively slow and usually for niche legal practice areas. However, new technologies may rejuvenate interest.
Date/Time: Monday 8/22/2011 at 11:00 a.m.
Location: Canal C
- Peter Krakaur – Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
- Michael Tominna – DLA Piper
- Ayelette Robinson – Littler Mendelson, P.C.
- Yvonne Willis – Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
- Moderator: David Hobbie – Goodwin Procter LLP
Poll: Most people in the room do not currently use DA software.
DH – What is DA? – Not a wizard or template. It’s a set of apps that leverage the substance of legal documents for purposes of document generation, analysis and provision of legal services.
MT – Uses Exari – a client RFP came in and required that the firm use a DA tool. So, they didn’t need any more justification for it. They started making it available for clients on the web for certain documents. DA helps the firm deal with alternative fee arrangements (AFAs). This can be used as a business process tool, as well. The app can tie into other applications. Can be used for litigation matters.
AR – Uses Contract Express’s Deal Builder product. They started off on the admin side with things like HR offer letters, recruiting, etc. and then moved in to legal work product. AR equated the way to use the app as “ad libs” where you sort of fill in the blanks. KM attorneys help out with this for the firm. They have a specific client project that prompted the use of DA. It’s not as much used for firm wide use. Pros and cons of the tool: Overall, good success with the tool. Pros: efficiency and maintaining quality. Whoever is using it is always using the latest, approved version of the document. Cons: The app can automatically pull in data pulled from other databases, SharePoint lists, etc., but this requires some thought and planning.
YW – uses Brightleaf and Kiiac. One attorney wanted to use DA for a particular client matter. They had DA for the IT department years earlier. Once the base documents were selected and set up, it worked very well and the attorney’s documents are in good shape.
PK – Uses HotDocs and Kiiac. Uses HD for emerging companies forms. Connects to the iManage DMS and saves to it, as well. Expanded this to their term sheet generator. Attorneys sometimes use the app right at client’s offices and turn out the documents right there. Kiiac automates by creating interview questions, and there are help menus throughout. The result is a download to a MS Word document. Kiiac also pulls in public documents from the SEC and creates a library of those documents to create new documents from. Allows the attorney to focus on the high level legal work, rather than the mundane. It allows the attorney to sect from various clauses and pull them into the current document. Also used for benchmarking to compare what was received from opposing counsel or what they are drafting. Can also be used to identify language that opposing counsel has used in other public documents to make an argument that they should use similar language.
How to make the business case for acquiring DA software?
YW – had a partner come to her asking for something with an easy interface, the ability to see the document growing as it was being developed in real time. Others in the firm are starting to hear about the successes and want to use it as well.
MT – technical resources: Warning – it’s not cheap to do this. Will this be internal or accessible externally? If externally, it is a separate SQL license, which is an additional cost. Many of these DA products offer a SaaS option, which can be a cheaper way to get your feet wet. But it is more difficult if you have internal workflows. They have one person on staff that works with coding DA documents – he handles with quality assurance process.
AR – you will need someone who is familiar with the legal perspective. They have one person in IT who is an expert with Contact Express, and they have a KM attorney who handles the document content. It is helpful to have a dedicated KM attorney who understands how the system works and how lawyers think so that they can help build the workflow with the practicing attorneys. Maintaining the documents is not a full time job, but it takes a little time and is important.
MT – Uses: (1) automated lateral partner questionnaire – all new lateral partners fill this out. They have been using it for over a year and it works very well. And this all gets stored in a SQL database, so they have all this data accessible. It also creates a nice PDF document for the conflicts department – they could even hook it up for a automated conflicts check. (2) engagement letters – once the new business intake system is approved, it feeds via XML to create an engagement letter and emails it to the attorney who will send out the letter. This guarantees a standard engagement letter and this is important for the risk department. So, this is an internal business process tool.
What really drives adoption?
PK – drives for efficiency and alternative fee arrangements. Align this will broader firm strategy. PK gets a lot of requests to automate documents, but he can’t do it all. There is a definite surge in interest, but it takes people and time and money to do this, So, it’s not cheap. He is also seeing requests from clients. And RFPs are including questions asking about these capabilities.
AR – many clients are asking about their ability to access these tools. They are considering using this for employment policies and handbooks. This is very state / jurisdiction driven, but helps ensure consistency with these documents. They have premium extranets (flat fee per month), that allows them to ask questions, etc. They could add certain documents to these premium extranets.