4-minute read, 5-minute exercise
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You will always have a healthy level of scepticism that comes with discovering anything new. That’s a really good characteristic, especially for a legal professional. You should take the time to research new things and see if they work for you.
If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Any new product or service that promises to solve every issue you’ve ever faced in one simple move is probably too good to be true. Particularly if the promoters insist that you pay a high price before they reveal anything about their wonder product or service.
Creating automated legal documents is a very new niche in the practice of law
It’s new, but it’s not too good to be true. Legal professionals often ask us questions about how automated legal documents work. We also generally come across online discussions with someone providing general comments on automated legal documents, which seem to be based on a limited understanding of how they work.
Here we help to dispel the myths that you may have come across.
Myth One – All automated legal documents are vanilla. Not true. It seems that some precedent access services provide vanilla documents. However, there are legal professionals out there who are developing vibrant automated legal documents that are based on their skills and experience in their chosen area of law. Look for smaller law practices who are working in this new niche area and check out their website for the quality documents they’ve put together.
Myth Two –You can’t get a full range of quality, vibrant documents from one source. Okay, this one is partly true. It is very unlikely that legal professionals who are drafting vibrant documents based on their skills and experience in their chosen area of law will be able to produce the same quality documents in every area of law that you’re looking for. But why do you need to be able to access every precedent possible from one source? Okay, it’s convenient. But with a little research, you’ll be able to find a few authors in your area of practice that you can get to know and trust in their work. I bet you’ll probably need the documents from these authors most often. Also, have a look around for automation platforms where authors come together to make their documents available from the one source.
Myth Three – They are too expensive. Based on what? Compared to vanilla documents that cannot be customised, yes, quality automated documents that can be highly customised will be more expensive. If you’d like vanilla documents for your practice and appreciate the low price, then that’s a great way to go because that’s what’s valuable to you. However really look at the quality and level of customisation of the automated legal documents you’re interested in, get to know what situations they have been designed for and how you’ll be able to save time and money in your practice by using them. Then you’ll be able to trust that the price set reflects the value of the document.
Myth Four – You can’t use another practice’s document as part of your services to your client. Yes, you can. If a legal practice makes their automated documents available to sell to other law practices to use as part of their legal services, then yes, you can. If you do some research and find a great document that you’d like to copy and add your logo, then obviously no, you can’t. That’s theft.
Myth Five – Automated documents are inferior to a lawyer manually producing a bespoke document. Absolutely not. A lot of research, thought and intentional design goes into creating a quality, automated legal document. They are drafted by experienced legal professionals and designed to serve a specific purpose for a specific audience. Automation itself is a very valuable tool to significantly reduce the time and cost of producing a document, but it does not take away from the quality of the document. Some professionals even allow you to download the completed document in a format where you can make any changes that you’d like, although it’s generally a good idea to only make changes if you’re confident in your own drafting in that area of law. It would generally take a lot of time and expense for a lawyer to manually put the same amount of work into every bespoke document.
Myth Six – Automated Legal Documents just fill in the gaps, like filling in a form. No, automation allows you to create documents that can be highly customised. The author can design how information is gathered then how it is used to create the document. They use their knowledge, skills and experience to make decisions about the questions to ask next, how the document is constructed, what exact clauses, words or phrases to use in the document and when to prompt the user to seek further legal support. Automation software has a wide range of features so the author can design their document as creatively as they’d like.
Myth Seven – When you complete an interview, you can’t change the document. This myth may be partly true, depending on the automated document that you purchase and whether or not the author has permitted the document to be downloaded in a format that permits changes. However, there are many quality, automated documents available that can be downloaded in Word format so you can make any changes that you’d like. Just be confident in the drafting changes that you’re making so you don’t unintendedly reduce the quality of the document.
Myth Eight – You can’t rebrand them. Yes, you can. If a legal professional sells their automated documents to you to use in your practice, there will be a way to rebrand them. If you’re not sure, just ask.
Myth Nine – There’s always a catch. This myth may be partly true, depending on the author. But be assured that trusted authors will always clearly describe what you’ll receive so there won’t be any catch. If you’re not sure, just ask.
Myth Ten – You don’t know who drafted them. This myth may be partly true, depending on your source. Just remember that independent authors are relying on their reputation and the quality of their work to sell their automated legal documents. They will usually have a presence on social media, will have a website with useful information and will be open to your questions and feedback.
Do what you need to do to feel comfortable taking the first step to change how you draft
Change is always hard. But continuing to produce quality documents manually with time and cost pressures is harder.
Get comfortable working with quality, automated legal documents that have been developed by experienced lawyers. Do what you need to do to get to know the author and trust in the quality of their work. Ask questions, provide feedback. Ultimately, using automated legal documents will save you time and help you offer a more valuable service to your clients. You will always have complete control over the legal services that you provide to your clients.
Spend the next five minutes researching the automated legal documents that are out there and work out what is important to you and for your practice. Connect with the authors that you’re interested in and ask questions.
Do you have any questions about the automated legal documents that Support Legal develops? Check out our website or email Deborah at Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org.