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.
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.
HotDocs has for years had a connector to Microsoft Outlook. It is an effective tool for importing data. However, the data that comes in, often needs to be “cleaned up” before it can be used.
Working with Outlook
- State Field: The state can sometimes be entered as Abbreviated (e.g. NY) or as a Full State (“New York”) which causes problems on import if you importing into a Multiple Choice field
- Street Field: The “Address” in Outlook is different from the BusinessAddressStreet field. And that field can have multiple lines in it, affecting how that text appears in your template where you may have coded Street1 and Street2
Further, some of the mappings in the tool are confusing because of the terminology used by Outlook and that used by most HotDocs coders can be quite different.
- Which Address: In Outlook there is a MailingAddress, a HomeAddress and a BusinessAddress. If you are importing into a primary address, then you would choose MailingAddress. If it is a Business, with a Company, you should use Business Address.
- Salutation, Title and Job Title: These fields are confusing since Title is “Mr.” or “Mrs”, Saluation is non-existent, and JobTitle is the positon someone holds at a company.
Salesforce is a powerful tool for practice management. It’s implementation by AdvologixPM brings that power in a digestable form to attorneys. Until now, your main option for document assembly has been to create basic merge templates. The DrawLoop addin allowed you to create packages; multiple templates with designated outputs. But in the end, you were still restricted to Word-Merges.
XpressDox 4.0 introduces the Salesforce.com Data Source Configuration Tool
Now there is another option, XpressDox. This tool is a power document assembly engine (with most everything you would expect from rival products), but at a very competitive price point. What I want to show here is live and dynamic connection between the desktop version of XpressDox (NOTE: it also works with the Server version as well).
It has been a year and a half since Capsoft UK (based in Scotland) purchased the HotDocs division from LexisNexis, and the combined entity became HotDocs Limited . In this time period, HotDocs came out with a major release of its server product, including enhancements for integration with sharepoint, as well as a “shrink-rapped” portal for HotDocs Server.