Is this you? A documents needs to be drafted and you’re pretty sure you created a similar document recently for another case. Surely it’ll be faster to create that new document based on that previous one….right?
Many professionals have faced this dilemma at some point in their career – the temptation of the Save As button. You tell yourself you’ll carefully check the data, you’ll diligently proofread and any residual information from the previous case will be eradicated. Until …. the moment when it isn’t.
The most common and critical mistakes made are:
- Incorrect Party/Contact details
- Key dates
- Inappropriate clauses
This article (ironically) by the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee nails the risks. “Previous matter documents are not precedents”, “Every matter is different and no matter how good your precedent, you need to proofread the document.” And the holy grail of mistakes – “Unfortunately, the practitioner failed to replace the names of the parties in the copied agreement with the new parties”. Ouch.
One of the LPLC tips states it simply – “do not copy over documents from other files”
Document automation vendors (like myself) know the temptation is hard to resist, despite a firm’s best intentions, automation tools and policies. So we work on ways to ensure the Save As journey is as safe as possible.
Mosmar’s DocAssist, and TR’s 3E MatterSphere are two products we know intimately and resolve the Save As dilemma in their own ways.
DocAssist – how’s it work?
After “Saving As” to a new iManage workspace, DocAssist will automatically pick up the new matter number and apply it to the document.
All content controls containing the previous matter data will be cleared, and data applicable to the new matter will be loaded. Such content controls include:
- Party/Contact lookups
- Key Dates
- Financial data
- Text controls
- Clause controls
MatterSphere – how’s it work?
After “Saving As” to a new iManage workspace or MatterSphere folder, the user is prompted to “Refresh the data”.
All fields will be refreshed, loading all the information from the new MatterSphere matter.
What’s the benefit?
Content specific to the document itself is retained, so doesn’t have to be retyped into a new document
- Scenario: A subpoena needs to be drafted for similar information (the core content of the document), but the parties need to be changed (the merging information via the automation tool).
Naturally the risk is reduced, as the sensitive data from the previous matter is removed and current information from the new matter is introduced.
Does it actually work in practice?
This data “merging” process is only as good as the data being captured. If you’re not storing critical contact data and key dates in a database but instead typing manually into documents, no automation tool is going to save you.
It may seem like the fastest way to create a document, but in the long run it will burn. Both from inefficiency in creating future documents, and from the Save As risk (see above).
What to know more?
We have a whole raft of horror stories we could share. Or if you’d like to talk to us about making your documenting journey not a scary one, get in touch.