The Yin and Yang of Document Assembly

I gave the following presentation in Sydney, Australia at a conference sponsored by Simon Lewis on the future of Document Assembly.  In this conference I spoke about the opportunities and barriers to entry for document assembly in the legal marketplace.

A word on who I am.

  • A lawyer … like you and the people you work for with impeccable academic credentials
  • A programmer … like some of you with NO academic credentials
  • An evangelist who seeks nothing less than to turn the current legal profession UPSIDE DOWN and bring to the practice of law 19th Century business principles:
  • Define the Product
  • Figure a way to SELL the Product
  • Mass Produce the product

THESIS: Document Assembly is not a “product” or a piece of “custom software”, but rather part of a process that transforms the practice of law.

  • It is an evolutionary and enabling process that builds on existing best practices and manual processes.
  • The goal of a well built system is not people replacement, but enablement, the enabling of your current staff to reach new heights of productivity
  • The goal is the ability to bring on new staff as productive members of the team shortly after hire.
  • The Yin is your existing staff and manual processes.
  • The Yang is the software and the custom solution.
  • Together, they create a wholistic solution that will bring your law practice to the new levels of profitability.

Prerequisites to Selling Document Assembly in the Organization – Requires agreement on the Following

  • Law is NOT about Hours, but Deliverables
  • The DELIVERABLE can be accurately described
  • The CURRENT cost of achieving that deliverable can be quantified (albeit in a range)
  • The Time from Retainer to DELIVERABLE is a separate quantifiable factor
  • The case load maximum capacity of your existing talent is a FACTOR.

Document Assembly can do it

  • I have not yet met a document I could not Automate.
  • The more complex the document the GREATER the return on the investment in automation.
  • You know the story about the Ginzu knife: it slices … it dices … it chops … it even opens Beer cans …
  • A well implemented process can do and handle ANY ANTICIPATED legal or factual issue.

Can Your Firm Afford a Document-Assembly Empowered Business Process?

  • I am not talking about CASH … cost in the traditional sense.  I am talking about STRESS on the organization of a process that can be sped up by a factor of 10 to 100
  • This stuff is Crack Cocaine … Once started, there is no going back.  You take away document assembly, and your staff will QUIT.
  • Every aspect of the BUSINESS process is up for evaluation for potential automation.
  • Document assembly means paralegals and secretaries are doing FIRST RATE legal work and calling in the attorney for Closings and Court Appearances.
  • With Document Assembly you can ELIMINATE the Middleman … that supervisor layer that serves as an quality control and process bottleneck on getting the work done.
  • With Document Assembly you can RETAIN staff.  The work is exciting and the pace is fast.
  • With Document Assembly you can scrap those plans to go on a HIRING SPREE.  Your current staff can handle the work.
  • Document Assembly enabled processes adhere to Moore’s law … each year, you can double the amount of the work with the same Staff.

The typical questions and some not so typical answers

  • What will it ACTUALLY COST? How long is a piece of string …. as long as it needs to be.
  • How long will it TAKE?  How does one move a mountain?  …. One rock at a time.
  • Will you constantly need to REVISE the system?  Will you stop practicing law?  No … so why should a document assembly process ever be finalized.
  • Are all document assembly platforms the SAME?  … Oh … you must be snorting coke.  Document Assembly programs, unlike people, are not ALL created Equal and endowed by their creators with certain inalienable functions.  Some are simply more capable than others.
  • Does it REALLY matter which document assembly program I start with?  NOT REALLY.  So long as you start, and follow a clearly defined and documented process.