Automating firm document creation is a useful, and generally simple, way to increase firm productivity. Designing a template and using mail-merge functionality to populate new and individual documents is fundamentally better than using find/replace, or copying and pasting clauses, sentences, or whole documents. Not only is it faster, it’s generally less error prone.
But documents need to be relatively standardized in order to use this method effectively. Law firms who implement templates or mail-merge document automation generally find complex document creation problematic.
Many have—smartly—implemented conditional formatting capabilities, which has allowed them to automate even more complex documents. Even then, however, these firms generally run up against a complexity barrier, where the cost of creating and automating the document is higher than simply using basic methods of copy-paste.
So they revert back to these simple methods with the documents that, arguably, could benefit from automation the most. Ten years ago, this was the right answer. And it may still be for some firms. However, a different method of visualizing document automation could be the solution instead.
When complex documents are needed, law firms should think of solution creation, rather than simple document automation. As Harvard Business School marketing professor, Thoedore Levitt, put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” For lawyers and law firms, clients don’t want documents. They want protection. They want certainty. They want peace-of-mind.
The next step in providing this peace-of-mind to your clients is to create applications that result in documents, rather than applications that fill-out documents. This requires software built for the task at hand. Software that, until recently, was not accessible to the everyday attorney.
This is where Knackly comes in. With Knackly, users create “apps” that build a document, or documents, based on the answers to questions presented. These answers, rather than telling the document what to “print,” tell the application what to do. They can tell an application to include a clause, to manipulate a clause, to add certain documents, or even to run certain equations. The logic is acting on the document rather than in the document.
To be sure, document systems, as described above, can be created directly out of Microsoft Word. Or a separate application can be built to accomplish these same goals. In fact, many people have done this already. But, generally, this has been at great cost to the law firm.
Although Knackly is not a no-code, or even a low-code solution, it is accessible to most attorneys. And the Knackly team is a partner that will help you create these systems, and then learn to iterate from them to build thorough client solutions.
Take a look at the video below to see what Knackly did when we gave them a Tennessee Residential Lease Agreement to automate.
How to Get It
If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our full review. Or you can visit Knackly.io. There, you can get a demonstration of what the software is capable of, and you can talk to a knowledgeable member of the team. When you’re ready to engage them, you’ll go through a jump-start process that will help you determine what your law firm’s document automation needs are. This will also help your firm get its current documents into the Knackly system.