Corporate Legal Departments Moving toward Document Automation


There's ever-increasing pressure for lawyers to be technologically savvy -- not just comfortable on their tablet computers, and not just comfortable with their companies' IT systems, but also comfortable partnering to bring technology solutions into the legal department to attack to common problems. And one of the biggest of those problems is reducing risk to the organization at large while, at the same time, reducing cost of operating the legal department itself. How are they doing that? With technology like document automation.

Geoffrey Goldberg's "Legal department, meet document automation: The risk reduction and efficiency gained through the use of document automation can be substantial" in Inside Counsel is the first of a three-part series examining document automation (specifically master contracts and semi-automated contract drafting) and how it can improve efficiencies in the corporate legal departments.

Goldberg is from Business Integrity, which sells software that generates standard legal documents from automated temples so he has skin in the game, but his article seems spot on. In-house counsel I've worked with are increasingly being asked to advise on such systems, and help incorporate them into business units and legal department functions. Generally, they start with functions that generate numerous, highly standardized, low-risk, and low-value contracts or forms. But when businesses and lawyers see how powerful such forms can be, the document automation process moves into higher value agreements.

So if you're in-house -- or aspiring to go in-house -- take a look at the concept of auto-generated contracts and think about whether those might be solutions that work for your business model. But don't worry. They'll still need lawyers to keep these form contracts in line with changing law, regulations, and business goals.

At least for now.