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In law firms, document automation is no longer an option

By April Cunningham, Associate Editor

Document automation technology will never replace lawyers but the changes that software such as Toronto-based Korbitec Inc.’s Automated Civil Litigation (ACL) can bring to the legal profession are “profound,” Lexpert Magazine reports.

“In the drive for greater efficiency, law firms and in-house counsel are exploring and using contract automation programs that stand to redefine the practice of corporate law,” says the article, a shorter version of which also appeared in the Globe and Mail.

Alan Bass, company president, says the article is right: although document automation has been around for many years, it has become more sophisticated in its flexibility, capability, adaptability and customizability. And it is also much easier to use.

“The big difference between Korbitec and some of the other companies is that we actually provide and maintain content for most forms of litigation,” Bass tells AdvocateDaily.com. The software has the composition engine, which the company also developed, to assemble documents while customizing them for law firms.

“Not only do we provide court forms and other litigation documents used in the practice area, we also add specific content that caters to the needs of the individual law firm,” he says. “It really becomes a customized product.”

Other software is an “open shop,” Bass adds, meaning law firms have to create and maintain their own content templates and forms.

Our model is that we do all the template work for them, because we have to maintain the integrity of all the court forms that we provide.”

Bass says the article points to the fact that operating a law firm without some form of document automation “really isn’t an option anymore.”

“These aren't nice to haves — these are necessities if you're going to have an efficient law practice. Because of the speed and reduction in errors and repetition, these are standard tools of the trade.”

Industry and clients may not be specifically demanding the software, Bass adds, but new billing models may require it. A failure to be efficient means a law firm can’t price adequately or competitively, which is bad for business, he says.

Bass compares the lack of automation to a firm that still uses dial-up Internet or typewriters.

“It’s not efficient, and if you did it that way you’d lose money. If you’re not using document automation software, you’re not making as much as you could be."

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