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I recently received a fantastic question from a prospective client. They invested considerably in their PMS, DMS and document automation (with a different provider) and they wanted to know what value DocAssist could add to their existing or transition process.

There are many compelling answers to the question of “Why DocAssist” and they depend on where you fit in the law firm ecosystem. In the case of this client though there are two major factors:

  • Integrating with existing systems
  • Transitioning to a new automation system

PMS and DMS Integration

Every firm’s process of integrating their systems is unique. But we’re here to help!

For iManage Sites

DocAssist has standard iManage integration. We also offer a number of features specifically for iManage sites including Clause Bank and Precedent Bank functionality. Our iManage integration is fully compatible with Work10.

For NetDocuments Sites

We have a number of NetDocuments clients who successfully use DocAssist at a national scale. These clients were the driver behind one of our most exciting clause bank solution, Clippings. We have standard integration with NetDocuments which allows you to utilise its full DMS functionality when creating and saving documents.

Other DMSes

Given the volume of work we do there are always clients who do things outside of the norm. We’re really proud of our DMS integration process. We understand that practice and document management systems are what makes most law firms tick. So whatever your document management process is, we have you covered.

PMS Integrations

DocAssist has its own SQL database. So when it comes to PMS integration, if we can access a SQL database, we can easily and populate our own database. Your ‘source of truth’ remains your PMS but we also have the option to write data from your documents back to the DocAssist database. Meaning we can create extended data on your matters without touching your PMS.

Our clients currently use DocAssist in conjunction with:

  • Aderant Expert;
  • ELITE 3E;
  • Affinity and;
  • Open Practice.

Document Automation

We know how difficult it is to code and maintain documents. Part of the driver for the development of DocAssist was to give our clients an easy to maintain precedent development option, particularly to those who don’t have in-house precedent developers or coding knowledge.

Our solution doesn’t require any coding experience. Anyone can automate a document using DocAssist. It’s all based on standard content controls which we expanded on. The advantage of using DocAssist as opposed to other automation systems is that DocAssist precedents are more viable in the long term because:

  1. Once set up DocAssist documents require minimal conversion if you change your data source or DMS
  2. They require minimal effort to maintain as there are no templates (.dotm documents), even to maintain styles

Many sites either use DocAssist and another system as a hybrid system. Others use DocAssist to phase out their legacy precedents before fully launching DocAssist to their firms over the space of a few months. This makes the change management and user acceptance aspect of projects a lot more manageable.

Transitioning

Transitioning doesn’t need to be painful. We developed a tool which can assist in the analysis and conversion of any existing templates. It’s called DocAnalyser. This tool helps analyse existing documents and presents findings in easy to understand SSRS or Power BI report. These reports assist precedent developers with their conversion process. Additionally, we can assist you with the development of custom macros to convert existing precedents. Most importantly, DocAnalyser isn’t limited to DocAssist users. It can be used as an ongoing auditing tool to report on merge fields, macros, templates, styles and even content in precedent libraries.

Whether you are new to document automation or you are in-between systems, DocAssist and the Mosmar team are here to help.

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.

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