Last month’s post, “5 Law Firm Challenges and How to Confront Them” highlighted the wide gap between lawyers’ awareness of legal technology’s importance and their readiness to address it. With 70% of legal departments asking firms to describe the technologies they use to be more productive and efficient (1) — and many prospective new hires doing the same — it’s simply good business sense to be technology ready.
And waiting is no longer an option. Technology is changing too quickly, and it’s a lawyer’s duty to keep up. (See our prior post, “The New Duty of Technology Competence”). So, if you’ve seen the term “phishing” and thought it was a spelling error or thought “machine learning” was what you went through when learning to program your VCR or microwave, this post is here to help.
This is the first in our series on Tech Terms for Lawyers, and this month we start with two terms that are often incorrectly used interchangeably.
Document Automation vs. Document Management: What’s the Difference?
Document automation and document management are both important technologies for lawyers, but they serve different purposes.
Document management refers to the organization and storage of legal documents, such as contracts, agreements, briefs, and court filings. A document management system allows lawyers to access, search, and manage these documents efficiently, ensuring they can find the right document at the right time with minimum effort.
Document automation, on the other hand, is the process of creating and generating documents automatically, using templates and predefined rules. This can include automatically filling in information like names, dates, and addresses, or generating entire documents from scratch based on a set of criteria.
Document automation is also different from document assembly. Automation is much more than merging information into a document. It includes logic and decision trees based on how and what information is provided.
While document management is important for storing, organizing, and retrieving existing documents, document automation can help lawyers save time by automating repetitive tasks such as creating new documents, generating form letters, or filling out standard forms. This can free up lawyers to focus on higher-value tasks such as legal analysis, negotiation, and advocacy.
There’s More to Document Automation Than Saving Time
At Korbitec, document automation for the legal profession has been our focus for over 40 years. And it continues to surprise us when we encounter a firm that hasn’t moved beyond “copy and paste” for creating court forms and other legal documents. So, we offer several reasons – beyond the time savings already mentioned – that firms should consider adopting document automation:
- Cost Savings: Automation can reduce the need for costly manual labor, such as document review and data entry.
- Improved Accuracy: Automation can help reduce the risk of errors and omissions.
- Consistency: Every firm strives for a consistent “look-and-feel” for documents leaving the firm, and automation helps that happen.
- Scalability: Automation allows law firms to handle larger volumes of work more efficiently and bring new staff up to speed more quickly.
- Better Service: Automation can help law firms deliver faster, more accurate, and more consistent services, leading to improved client satisfaction.
- Compliance: Automation can help ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements by enforcing consistent formatting, language, and data.
- Better use of data: Automation can help to extract, manage and analyze data across documents, enabling more efficient and effective decision-making.
We hope this post has helped demystify two of the most commonly confused tech terms. Overall, both document management and document automation are important tools for lawyers and can be used together to streamline legal workflows, reduce risk, and improve the delivery of services.
For more on selecting a document automation system, see our prior post, “8 Things to Look for in a Document Automation System”. And stay tuned for future posts to continue to expand your legal tech lexicon.
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.