Earlier this month the Hanseatic Bar Association in Hamburg won a court case to essentially ban AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered consumer legal platforms from providing legal services without lawyer input.   Although the case is being appealed by Wolters Kluwer, it does raise some good questions about the art of modern legal practice. While we’re unlikely to see such a ban in Australia, how much should legal practice be automated?

I am not a lawyer, but I’ve worked in the legal industry for long enough to appreciate how seriously lawyers take legal advice. In my first few years in the industry I assumed that the legal professionals I dealt with were being culturally protectionist of their field of work and that a shift in innovative thinking was the solution to our problems. Almost 10 years on, I still think that innovation is the key to improving lawyer and client experience. However, my opinions around mass automation has shifted considerably. 

While I am still a firm believer that AI and other assistive technologies are essential for the modern lawyer (and profitability!) I see the concerns in removing the lawyer from the “lawyering”. Excluding a professional from their “practising” not only makes for an unhappy lawyer but can also create barriers in customising processes for their clients’ unique requirements. Using data-sets of known factors to create a standardised contract sounds great, but ensuring the contract meets every nuance of a client’s personal or business situation must still be achievable.

Rigid workflows and fully automated systems look great on paper, they reduce the risk of skipping essential steps, key dates and submissions considerably. But how well do they work in practice? How many times have you been directed to complete a step in a workflow that you are not ready for? How often do you find yourself trying to skip ahead on a process because you don’t yet have the necessary answers, only to end up with documents that are incomplete or inaccurate?

This was one of the key factors in the development of DocAssist; giving the lawyering back to the lawyer. Being an interactive yet non-intrusive precedent process, DocAssist gives legal professionals the ability to draft documents without limiting them in their word-smithery.  It is an automation tool that doesn’t automate to the heavens and back, but guides and directs and interacts just enough to enable a lawyer to make educated decisions on a document’s output.  DocAssist understands that requirements change and it empowers lawyers to interact with their document continuously over time. This can be so vital with highly negotiated contracts and professionals that are time poor.

The uptake of DocAssist is often initiated by legal teams rather than IT for this very reason. And we know from experience that the document technology projects which have the highest rates of success are often those that are championed directly by lawyers and knowledge departments (sorry IT!). I no longer see this as a protectionist attitude, rather an understanding that legal professionals know exactly what can and can’t work for their work culture and client needs.

New Features

  • Introduction of document data caching – meaning values of content controls are always available whether inside select or optional paragraphs
  • Batch Processing tool to allow a group of DocAssist documents to be generated against a set matter and author
  • Tool to Deconstruct/Reconstruct Repeaters for ease of updating and maintaining repeaters
  • Addressee’s email address will auto-populate into the To box when DocAssist emails are created
  • Option to retain the Outlook email signature in DocAssist emails
  • Ability to start a new precedent automatically in filtered mode – to only take the user to incomplete content controls
  • Centralised management of DocAssist licences by allocating licences to specific users, in DocAssist Admin utility
  • Auto Allocation of DocAssist Licence to Users if they have DocAssist installed, use Word, are unlicensed and there are enough licences available.  Otherwise, the administrator will have to allocate the licence manually using the Admin Utility
  • Centralised management of DocAssist licensing key via DocAssist Admin utility
  • Licencing warning appears 5 days from when the licence is due to expire
  • Contact Lookups include the ability to multi select and return a delimited list of contact names with optional delimiters and final delimiter.  EG Rebecca Painter, Pratik Mehta and Demi Agraz.
  • Ability to control whether an iManage Clause Bank content control will refresh automatically when it is accessed in a document.  A configuration setting is available to choose it to automatically refresh clause content from iManage or leave it as static in the document after insertion.  – <AutoRefreshClauseControlOnClick>True</AutoRefreshClauseControlOnClick>
  • Suppress the refresh of a Repeater Control when a user clicks on the control in the document.  It will only refresh by clicking the Add button (+) to add a new repeater or when moving through the Repeaters using the arrows on the DocAssist pane.  This can be turned on/off using a setting in the configuration file
  • DocAssist pane will only refresh when choosing an option from a Select Paragraph, if there are controls that appear on the pane, as a result of the selection made
  • Ability to add controls that are hidden on the pane and during navigation.  User will not be prompted in the document or the pane.
  • View User and Edit User details added to the DocAssist Pane, if the necessary settings are added to the DocAssist configuration file (Settings.xml) and ability to make certain User attributes read only – both across standard User fields (ie First Name, Last Name) and extended data fields (inside the data XML)
  • DocAssist emails can be sent in draft mode.  Depending on settings in the settings.xml file
  • DocAssist emails retain their numbering

Feature Changes

  • DocAssist prompt pane orders controls correctly when they are introduced during select paragraph process
  • Clippings dialog scales correctly on high DPI monitors
  • Mouse wheel movements will not interfere with dropdown controls in the prompt pane
  • Prompt pane always shows up to date data from the matter when writeback is used
  • Money controls that calculate totals will update automatically in the prompt pane
  • Repeater controls when added to the Prompt pane will have a Title heading assigned
  • Removing a Repeater option will remove it as a relationship from the matter
  • Controls inside a repeater will writeback to the database
  • A Letterhead will get inserted, if a matter is not selected, if there is an Author selected
  • Improvements in dialog sizing and location when changing resolution
  • Enhancements to improve scaling on multi select paragraphs dropdown
  • Enhancements to improve selection and saving of changes in Admin Utility
  • Improve signoff
  • Improve how repeating users or contacts after being added to the document, are being deleted and updated in the database and document
  • Updated Rich Text Control default message
  • Improve scaling of text control labels in the DocAssist pane
  • Improve scaling of toolbar icons in the DocAssist pane

Feature Changes specific to imanage users only

  • Clause Bank dynamically updates with additions to folders and documents
  • Worksite context setting to offer more options when opening or saving a document to Worksite
  • Work 10 only – Precedent Bank, Email Precedent Bank and Clause Bank can point to a Work10 folder in addition to a Work10 workspace
  • Work10 only – Update functionality for Work10 to allow using location and lists to be added to a document from ClauseBank
  • Work10 only – Improve searching in Clause Bank

Ways to manage standardised clauses is one of the most common requests we get. Standardised clauses are important for accuracy, firm representation and consistency.

We’ve developed two sets of Clause Library options for DocAssist users depending on their existing systems as well as firm requirements. These options are:

  • Clippings and;
  • Clause Bank

Both solutions are available with the DocAssist’s Word and Outlook Add-ins.

Clippings

Clippings is the standard clause library that comes as part of your standard or premium DocAssist implementation. The way we describe Clippings is “Auto-text but better”.

While Clippings are just .docx files saved in a directory, there are two major differences between the standard auto-text functionality and our solution:

  1. You have the ability to save your clippings to up to three locations with separate security policies applied to them:
    • Personal
    • Shared
    • Global
  2. Clippings allows you to preview and search for clauses in a compact user interface before inserting them into your document, without having to search for it in a different location.
Preview of Clippings interface with a preview of a clause stored in a “Personal” location.

Clause Bank

Clause Bank is a functionality developed specifically for firms who utilise iManage. It has been integrated with their latest release (Work10) in order to provide users with seamless access to their curated clause library managed by the KM or Precedents department.

Like Clippings, Clause Bank allows users to select relevant pieces of text, tables or images saved to a central repository.

Like Clippings, ClauseBank allows users to search for and insert accurate clauses into their documents with the click of a button.

You can also create your own library of curated clauses by adding them to your favourites. 

Clause Bank interface showing curated folder structure

What’s right for me?

There are many compelling reasons to use either Clippings or Clause Bank. Most firms using iManage will utilise both.

For those firms, the main use case for having both is to provide users with the flexibility to access either their personal or departmental clause options via Clippings as well as the firm-wide curated clause library.

The advantage of using both is that it allows users to personalise Clippings (ie modify clauses) and keep them in their “Personal” Clippings location. It also allows departments to maintain their own clause libraries  without having to go through IT, KM or Precedents departments.

For non-iManage sites, Clippings can be a powerful utility where security policies can be applied to the Personal, Shared and Global locations to dictate Read/Write/Modify permissions. This way KM/Precedent departments can still have the power to curate Global and Shared locations, but provide users flexibility to modify and use their preferred clauses via their Personal location. 

The option that is right for you depends on your firms policies and preferences.

New Features

  • Introduction of document data caching – meaning values of content controls are always available whether inside Select or Optional Paragraphs
  • Batch Processing tool to allow a group of DocAssist documents to be generated against a set matter and author
  • Tool to Deconstruct/Reconstruct Repeaters for ease of updating and maintaining Repeaters
  • Addressee’s email address will auto-populate into the To box when DocAssist emails are created
  • Option to retain the Outlook email signature in DocAssist emails
  • Ability to start a new precedent automatically in filtered mode – to only take the user to incomplete content controls
  • Centralised management of DocAssist licences by allocating licences to specific users, in DocAssist Admin utility
  • Centralised management of DocAssist licensing key via DocAssist Admin utility

iManage Feature Changes

  • Clause Bank dynamically updates with additions to folders and documents
  • Precedent Bank, Email Precedent Bank and Clause Bank can point to a Work10 folder in addition to a Work10 workspace

Feature Changes

  • iManage Work10 integration
    • Save to Workspace
    • Precedent Bank
    • Email Precedent Bank
    • Clause Bank

    • Clause Bank – build on your document by inserting DocAssist clauses[/caption]
  • Certain Contact attributes can now be read only – both across standard Contact fields (ie First Name, Last Name) and extended data fields (inside the data XML)
  • Enable the removal of the Sign button from the DocAssist pane if not required at a particular site
  • Modify Gender field in Contact table to accept more than 2 characters
  • DocAssist prompt pane will now always refresh correctly to show user controls and date controls
  • Add Contact dialog updated so that users are always able to get multiple lines into the Address box
  • Enable users to action lowest level dialog without dialogs overlapping
  • Enable Edit Contact form on high DPI monitors (over 100%)
  • Renaming content controls dialog will always apply the changes
  • Improve the speed in which money controls apply calculations
  • Precedent Bank no longer forces the initial save
  • iManage profile no longer returns “0” when the Addressee of the document is blank

The Mosmar developers have been working hard lately to integrate iManage Work10 into DocAssist and it is now available in our latest release.

For all our wonderful existing clients, please get in touch for the upgrade files.  If you are new to DocAssist and would like more information, we’d love to hear from you.

Here are a few teasers of what the integration includes:

Precedent Bank – launch a new DocAssist precedent

Clause Bank – build on your document by inserting DocAssist clauses

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