I have been working with and following Contract Express as a consultant for a number of years. I recently had the opportunity to convert a complex GhostFill document assembly system to Contract Express. In working on the project I had chance to do an in depth look at Contract Express in its current incarnation. At the outset of the project, after initial planning but before coding began, Contract Express enabled developers and consultant to create custom functions. This brand new feature became key to leveraging features that had existed in GhostFill, but, till that time, were beyond the reach of Contract Express.
Wouldn’t it be great if your clients could answer your INTAKE QUESTIONNAIRE online, and you could use those answers, immediately, to create documents for them using HotDocs document assembly. How much do you think this would cost? The answer is less than you think.
In our work in HotDocs, we often need to bring in defective and malformed data from databases. Often the data source contains an address field or fields. Ideally, it will be formatted with Street, City, State and Zip as separate fields. However, more often, the data is not properly structured for analysis and usage. We may get address line 1 and address line 2 or even address line 3. To put this data into a usable format requires an understanding of text parsing.
With the use of the Custom Functions properties of HotDocs Computations, we have defined a way to parse the Address Line text which is in the [CityName], [StateAbbrev] [ZipCode] format in a line into the 3 separate constituent fields, respectively tmpCity, tmpState, and tmpZip. We pass a parameter, prmCSZ which contains the address string. The output sets the tmp fields which can then be used in a dialog script or other computation to set the actual fields you wish to use.
Paper Software (for the Mac) from Turner (Contracts Made Easy) (www.paper-software.com) is a solution in search of a problem. On encountering the product at LegalTech New York 2014, I asked myself how this tool would improve either legal document drafting or document analysis. I was told there was a new “document assembly” tool that work on a Mac. What I found was fascinating, but really a niche product.
Yesterday, I took on a new “challenge” in one of the many commercial lending systems we have been building. Typically, we attach a Loan Amortization Table supplied by the “bank client” to the loan documentation.
These tables project payments of principal and interest during the term of the loan. After some research on formulas, review of VBA model code and Excel spreadsheets, I took the challenge. That featured image up top is the result.
At the last Amicus Consultant’s Conference I demonstrated some innovative ways of improving the way HotDocs and Amicus interact. A recent post on the LinkedIn user’s group, Amicus Wizards, has prompted me to post some pictures from that demo. The question was asked why is the HotDocs interview generated automatically by Amicus so long with so many dialogs. The answer is that the automatically generated interview DOES NOT HAVE any dialogs, it is merely a list of variables that are used in the template in the order that they appear in the document.
The answer to the question is “MatterInfoSpareLong2”. After several hours of searching, calls to former PCLaw product managers and tech support directors, I got the answer I was searching for. My odyssey had started with a simple request: “Produce a report that combines File details in Amicus Attorney with billing and receivables details in PCLaw. Having presented a seminar on integrating Amicus Attorney and HotDocs, I thought it a simple matter to integrate HotDocs and PCLaw.
On the surface, it was easy. In PCLaw there is a MattInf table that stores the Matter information. You can use the MatterID from within HotDocs to query the SQL database and get file information. On the MattInf table there is a ClientID that links to information on the primary client, allowing you to pull in client data. For current statistics, there is a MattBal that contains data on each file regarding account balance, receivables, billings etc.
Matthew Berg recently reviewed TheFormTool Pro in the BigLaw newsletter distributed by TechnoLawyer. Having read the review and the videos of TheFormTool website, I applaud some the technology used by the developers of FormToolPro. It seems to make the “simple things” easy, and gives you somewhat more functionality than Merge Fields. The support for conditional fields and live variable edits is more than what you would expect from a cheap utility. It may be adequate for some of your needs; but not for all of your automation needs.
Don’t be deceived. Document assembly tools like HotDocs, XpressDox, DealBuilder and Exari offer a wealth more features. Handling of REPEATS or COLLECTIONS; seamless integration with databases, and support for nested levels of conditional logic are assumed in these systems. Check out the tool of course, but you will soon want to take automation to the next level of efficiency.
Previously, I have written about XpressDox integration with Salesforce.com and Advologix from a technical side, how from Microsoft Word you can access your template library, launch a template, and pull data from a Salesforce.com based practice management system. Such approach is very powerful and cost effective. But it also requires you to have Microsoft Word installed with an XpressDox plugin.
This post, however, focuses on implementation of a completely cloud-based assembly engine integrated into Salesforce.com. A prototype has been tested and implemented on a client site; however the tool is not yet ready for public distribution. In this system, a simple button would be added to the Matter object (or any object) in Salesforce.
At the recent Gavel & Gown consultants conference, I demonstrated a new way to access data stored on Amicus Attorney Premium Edition. Because Premium Edition is run on SQL Server platform, there is a way, through a secure connector to access the data for document assembly through HotDocs. More on that later.