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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
  • 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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