The future of law: documents, documents, documents

The future of law: documents, documents, documents

To paraphrase a former leader, the most important thing for lawyers in 2013 and beyond is “documents, documents, documents”.

No doubt all the lawyers reading this are thinking, ‘Well, it’s much more than that’ - but let me explain.

Our research suggests that some lawyers spend up to 60% of their working day drafting documents that affect transactions such as buying a house, divorcing a spouse, making a will and selling corporate assets.

But with the shake-up of the legal market (which itself began with the introduction of the Legal Services Act), pressure from clients to reduce fees and continual evolution of new technologies - lawyers face pressure from all sides.

In fact, many now realise that they need to commoditise legal processes and ensure they are as efficient as possible without ‘dumbing down’ the quality of their advice.

As legal futurologist, Richard Susskind argues: “Document assembly is and will remain forever a fundamental technology. If one looks at the heart of legal work, it’s about the production of documents and document assembly is an enabling tool that automates and streamlines that process.”

That’s music to my ears, being responsible for drafting applications at LexisNexis.

One of the tools we’ve built for lawyers that answers this need is LexisSmart Precedents. It combines document automation technology with LexisNexis’ practical legal documents to create an off the shelf drafting tool for British law firms and in-house legal departments. LexisSmart can reduce drafting time (by up to 80%) by streamlining the process of entering data and adding/subtracting relevant clauses using a simple questionnaire.

The service helps lawyers to create a wide range of legal documents, all of which are created based on the answers to that questionnaire. Individual clauses are uniquely edited by the tool based on the answers and by removing a lot of the manual copy & pasting which otherwise takes place this dramatically reduces the time it takes to get to a first draft.

Guidance within the questionnaire provides support for junior lawyers where necessary, enabling senior partners to delegate effectively should they wish to. There are 400 automated precedents across 14 practice areas, offering the most comprehensive set of documents available in the UK for all the most frequent drafts.

Customers can access LexisSmart Precedents direct from LexisPSL, LexisNexis’ practical law research tool at the point of searching for and selecting the appropriate precedent and there are direct links to expert guidance within LexisPSL on complex cases.

We’re really proud of LexisSmart Precedents here, and even more so that it’s a finalist in this year’s CODiE Awards. We’re committed to supporting lawyers draft more efficiently, and LexisSmart is the most sophisticated way we can do this – for now.

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