Friday, October 15, 2010

Document Assembly; Standard Approach and The Future

This is another presentation report, my notes from a KM peer group meeting.

Document Assembly is a "hard nut to crack." It is one of the ways however that lawyers can greatly increase their productivity.

Enterprise search, document assembly, contract analysis, and proofreading are all key ways to increase productivity.

At one firm financial industry registration changes and a large amount of anticipated work led them to develop a document assembly package for the new registration forms their clients needed. A few attorneys were able to set up a tool that did a lot of work. One lesson learned was the necessity to set up at times complex processes to maintain document assembly packages. There may be either too high expectations or "blaming the application" for errors introduced after the documents had been generated.

It was a successful effort in that the efficiency gain made it possible to do a lot more work. It was easy to change the model, and quality control was improved. It's not "last deal done" sample use any more. The KM lawyer is very happy to have document assembly in her tool kit.

Joshua Fireman of ii3 looked at the KIIAC application (discussed by Peter Krakauer at the ILTA conference). It assesses the variations and extent of variation of agreements. The firm he was working with delivered over 100 share purchase agreements. The tool deduplicated and determined that there were "only" 55 unique documents. One document was identified as the "most conforming." The fourth on the list was a bar association standard form. The firm KM lawyer went through clause-by-clause and assessed which version would work better. It took him 4-5 hours to figure out KIAAC and another 4 hours to develop the purchase agreement model. Almost every clause included links to most-commonly used variant clauses.

Joshua thinks that KIIAC has some document assembly features but also has a strong quality component. You can compare documents against the "KIIAC standard." The tool can not just develop a model or document assembly package, but can also greatly reduce the time to turn around effective comments on a document received from other counsel. (I had not thought of this use, which further demonstrates that I am a litigator by nature not a transactional attorney).

KIIAC is a tool designed to be powerful rather than user-friendly. PSLs or KM attorneys might use it to set up document assembly but practicing attorneys would not use it that way. Perhaps PSLs could use the tool in the analytical "other counsel" scenario. This can position KM as a real competitive advantage. KIAAC may not be able to deliver a final model, but it can save tremendous amounts of time in the development of such models. It can generate a decent quality model or document assembly package in a very reasonable period of time.

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