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Legal document automation: More output in less time

No-code legal document automation platforms can be continually customized to meet your client and practice area specific legal needs

6 min read


male manager working on tablet in factory for article on document automation

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Founding partner Greg Siskind of Siskind Susser PC is thrilled. Since upgrading the firm’s legal document automation last year, their lawyers and staff have combined their insights and work product with artificial intelligence to gain “​​greater control to create prompts and produce detailed, reliable documents, from simple to complex” — freeing up time for the unique immigration cases they love to take on, he says.

Lewis Silkin LLP Chief Technology Officer Alex Bazin has had a similar experience: “After implementing recent automations, some of the firm’s clients are already benefiting from reduced fees and exploring the opportunity to self-serve automations, while the firm’s lawyers have realized over 100 hours in time savings. We’re leveraging automation to ensure a strong means of building a process and pipeline of work.”Legal professionals who want to step up their game — increase efficiency and skills, impress clients and generate more income — need top-notch legal document automation, says Siskind, who uses NetDocuments’ PatternBuilder and the AI add-on PatternBuilder MAX.

Why is legal document automation so important? 

Automation isn’t a trend; it’s fast becoming the only way to keep up with the advancing speed of business. Fortunately, today’s technology is light-years ahead of previous iterations of legal automation and much easier to use. What used to be just word processing and coding has morphed into so much more. With low to no-code systems now available, you no longer have to hire developers to do automation, making it more accessible. The addition of generative AI takes automation even further than before. Jumping into automation now means not struggling to catch up as the technology improves exponentially in the coming years.

“Everything will go faster. Not just legal work; business will be executed at an ever-accelerating pace. Higher velocity. Greater volume. Increasing complexity. Legal professionals exist to enable business to navigate this complexity. We’re complexity engineers. We’re here to help the businesses we serve make better decisions faster — and we’ll need to expertly utilize this tech ourselves merely to keep pace,” asserts Casey Flaherty, co-founder of LexFusion.

Legal document automation isn’t just about doing work faster — it’s also about doing it better. Generative AI’s summarization and analysis skills and adaptability significantly reduce the need for humans to spend hours on tedious tasks that are cognitively draining. They help improve work product and create more time for strategic work and a better work life.


Legal document automation can:

  • Save time on administrative tasks
  • Improve the quality of work product
  • Reduce errors
  • Ease stress
  • Increase the number of clients served
  • Decrease time to competency
  • Improve KPIs
  • Impress clients

Is there a “best kind” of legal document automation?

Legal professionals should choose software or services based on their firm’s needs, tech and security capabilities, and growth plans. The legal document automation choices are:

  • Practice management software that has document automation features
  • Stand-alone document assembly software
  • Law firm document management software 

Any modern legal automation tool must possess a robust suite of tools that address the most needs and can handle especially complex legal logic, such as lists, loops, calculations and conditional clauses. 

The latter works with your existing document management, workspace and collaboration interface — so it goes far beyond generating documents to organizing, comparing, extracting, summarizing, drafting, reviewing, storing, sharing, securing, translating and approving … and beyond. It can, for example, automate matter intake, employee onboarding, estate planning packets, employment agreements, court filings and pleadings. It’s a bonus if the software doesn’t require  in-house coding or programming knowledge.

With rising regulations around data governance, complete automation software also should include advanced security tools and ensure nothing leaves the company and software/cloud ecosystem.

When choosing legal document automation software, make sure it offers:

  • Both Word and PDF document templates
  • Secure document storage
  • Conditional logic
  • System complexity
  • Auto-population
  • Data storage and reuse
  • Remote access
  • Electronic signatures
  • Software integrations
  • Granular security
  • Various file types
  • Email integration
  • Client self-service 

How important is customization?

Ideally, the software will allow for modifications to adapt to a firm’s particular client, jurisdictional or practice area needs and changes over time. For example, starting with basic document assembly is a good way to identify processes that are ripe for automation and start exercising your process mapping skills. Then, generative AI capabilities can be layered in when you are ready.

Why is AI plus automation a superpower?

AI chatbots will only get you so far. There are complex workflows, legal logic and calculations in legal documents that AI alone cannot solve, just as there are things that automation alone cannot solve. Generative AI brings text skills that didn’t exist previously. Blending those with automation gives firms the ability to create full end-to-end document workflows versus just outputting blobs of text. Having a document automation platform that also supports generative AI is like gaining a superpower.

For example, Siskin says he favors NetDocuments’ PatternBuilder MAX because it leverages AI in such a way that “all of our experience and knowledge is right there in the documents we save, and these tools tap into that.” Another attorney used the platform to automate the creation of cease-and-desist letters, which previously took about three hours each. 

Chief Information Officer David Worth says the Nelson Mullins firm uses a robust platform to “build our own customized generative AI workflows, whenever we want, in minutes. And each workflow we build will sit securely inside the platform we trust to store and manage our content every day.”

Document automation plus generative AI can augment lawyers’ skills in so many ways. 

“We all want technologies that reduce the friction for lawyers, so that they can do what they do best, which is practice law,” Michael Barrett, head of technology and innovation at Hicksons Lawyers, says.

The bottom line: Technology like the generative AI combined with automation in PatternBuilder MAX gives lawyers the tools — or what Barrett calls the “superpowers” — to truly level up their business and survive to fight another day.

CTA: Want to get started? Access this guide to Document Automation for Lawyers.


Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.