A Checklist for Canadian Litigators
After serving over 500 legal firms across Canada for over 20 years, we’ve heard many stories about how firms use legal tech and what makes for a successful implementation. To help those considering a new document automation system, we assembled this set of eight questions culled from the attributes that lawyers and their staff say they value most.
1 Was it designed specifically for Canadian law firms?
Since the law is jurisdiction-dependent, your document automation system should support the specific documents your courts require. Generic documents that need extensive editing defeat the purpose of automating and introduce the potential for errors.
2 Is document automation the provider’s primary focus?
Word processing software was never designed to handle the specific needs of legal documents. And document solutions that are part of a suite will often lack essential features because document automation is not the provider’s primary area of expertise. Seek a vendor whose specialty is document automation.
3 Is it structured around a best-practices workflow?
For experienced staff, your document automation system should reflect the legal process they follow. For recent hires, the system should guide them through the process. Find a system that steps the user through the completion of a document, covering all the required inputs efficiently and accurately. This approach will produce quality, error-free documents quickly and consistently.
4 Does it have an actively updated forms library?
Building custom documents from scratch is fine for one-off correspondence, but for court forms, there’s no substitute for a built-in library. And court forms in Canada have been changing much more frequently. You need to be confident your system is offering you the most current versions. A document automation system for Canadian litigators should include a forms library that’s continually updated.
5 Does it allow for customizations?
For many documents, your firm will have precedent clauses that you’d like to see applied consistently across the firm. In addition, your branding is an essential element of your documents that sets you apart from other firms. Your document automation system should support the customization of both text and design elements.
6 How easily does it integrate with other applications?
If efficiency is the goal, rekeying is the enemy. Your document automation system should easily integrate with other systems and transfer contact information and other essential data directly to your documents. Missed deadlines are a significant cause of administrative dismissal, so your system should also link to a task management function that tracks critical deadlines for filing forms.
7 Has the vendor worked with other firms like yours?
If the solution provider has had success with firms like yours, they should have a substantial reference list. Are there firms on the list that you recognize? Are they willing to speak to you about how well the vendor understands the unique needs of legal firms? Can they vouch for the vendor’s ability to deliver on their promises and support you after the sale?
8 Does the vendor offer training and live support?
User adoption is essential to the success of your software, and a well-constructed training program is a key enabler. It should be interactive and simple and speak to people at their level. It should also be available to new hires as they come on board. And when you need help, support should be readily accessible from someone who understands the legal environment.
Is there a solution that checks all the boxes? We think there is, but then we’re biased. So, don’t take our word for it. Use the checklist as a starting point. Ask the hard questions of the vendors on your shortlist that are most relevant to your firm. Weight the answers according to your firm’s priorities. And select a system with confidence.
About Michael Sauber
Michael Sauber leads the marketing program for Korbitec, producer of Automated Civil Litigation Software (ACL) and xchangedocs. He has worked with document production technologies and professional services for over 30 years and is a frequent blogger on these topics.