Document Automation Meets Client Collaboration
July 29, 2021
Today's TechnoLawyer Buyer's Guide report covers a document assembly system that lets your clients enter the information they know best for use in the documents you draft for them.
Document Automation Meets Client Collaboration
Document automation is cool. Answer a series of questions and a few minutes later you have a finished Word document that would have taken hours or days to draft from scratch. But do you know what's even cooler? Having clients and co-counsel enter the information they know best using the same interview process.
HotDocs in One Sentence
HotDocs, the leading document assembly system from AbacusNext, recently unveiled Client Interviews along with new capabilities for creating more versatile document templates.
The Killer Feature
HotDocs consists of two products in one — HotDocs Author and HotDocs Advance. HotDocs Author is a Microsoft Word add-in that specialists at your firm use to create HotDocs templates. HotDocs Advance is a web application through which lawyers and staff use these templates to create documents.
The new Client Interview feature in HotDocs Advance lets clients, co-counsel, and other collaborators enter information into HotDocs. In fact, you can make an entire template or a Document Package with several related templates available to clients for a limited-scope forms business similar to Legal Zoom.
But most of you reading this will instead use Client Interviews to generate an Answer File to use in one or more HotDocs Advance templates along with your legal expertise.
You can send a link to a Client Interview via email, text message, etc. HotDocs has an integration with Outlook to make this process seamless. You can require clients to enter a passphrase to access the Client Interview. HotDocs Advance notifies you when a client completes the form and creates an audit trail with date stamps.
"We chose HotDocs because it was accessible to our legal professionals and had good traction across the legal industry," says Mark Gerow, Director of Application Development & Business Process at Fenwick & West LLP. "Our corporate attorneys like the standardization, ease of use, and the fact that they can create packages of documents with the data gathered from client interviews."
"The Client Interview technology in HotDocs creates new opportunities for lawyers and brings more efficiency to their document workflows," says Matthew Groom, Senior Product Marketing Manager at AbacusNext.
The new Client Interviews in HotDocs let your clients enter the information they know best.
Other Notable Features
HotDocs once required knowledge of an authoring language but HotDocs Author is now a "no-code" platform. Open a document you want to transform into a template and then replace the phrases that change each time with Placeholders from the Field Editor panel such as client name, birthday, and much more. You need only enter a Placeholder once and HotDocs Author will add that Placeholder to each instance in the document.
HotDocs Author integrates with AbacusLaw or Amicus Attorney, which enables you to use any field in these practice management systems as a Placeholder for automatic data entry when generating documents. Support for open source web APIs enable you to integrate HotDocs with virtually any third-party product such as document management and practice management systems.
In addition to Placeholders, HotDocs Author supports conditional behavior, computations, and logic. For example, questions can have dependencies that trigger additional questions and skip other questions. Also, a template can perform any Excel-like calculation. Other features include auxiliary templates for housing clause libraries, tables for adding multiple signatories, and the ability to add documentation to any step in a template to assist users.
What Else Should You Know?
For documents subject to data privacy regulations, the new Quick Documents feature does not save any of the information entered to create the document. New reports give you insight into HotDocs usage such as which templates are the most popular among users. A new permissions system lets you create user groups to limit access to your firm's template collections.
Take a Closer Look at HotDocs
Meet Neil J. Squillante
Neil J. Squillante is the founder and publisher of TechnoLawyer, an award-winning network of free email newsletters for lawyers and law office administrators. Many consider TechnoLawyer newsletters the only ones they need. A Fastcase 50 award winner, Neil has a long track record of inventing successful advertising and publishing technologies and related best practices. Previously, Neil practiced commercial litigation at Am Law 100 firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. He received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law and his B.A. from Duke University. At UCLA, Neil served as a Managing Editor of UCLA Law Review.
Subscribe to TechnoLawyer