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Document Assembly v. Document Automation: What Are They and How They Differ

One thing law firms and legal departments all have in common is the creation of contracts, documents, and communications that will be reused and customized for matters in the future. If you have enough of these contracts, documents, or communications, document assembly or document automation can assist you in streamlining the creation of those documents and improving the consistency of the services you provide. The solution that will be most effective for you, will depend on a few things. In this post, we will break down what they are, how they differ, and which one may be a good fit for you.

What is Document Assembly?

Document assembly is a predefined form template containing blank merge fields to be customized. Document assembly requires a user to enter data into the form or a questionnaire to obtain a final custom document.

What is Document Automation?

Document automation has a predetermined set of data that has been collected and stored. Document automation does not require a user to do data entry or complete a questionnaire but relies on and uses data that has been entered into the system as part of the workflow.

Document Assembly v. Document Automation

Document assembly provides a consistent output when the users generating the forms are entering data each time to obtain a final document. It is more effective for legal departments and insurance companies, where often the users assembling the forms are only handling that specific task in the overall matter.

If you are looking to generate transactional documents in which many users or departments will be involved with a matter, assembly can provide a solution that delivers consistent documents that allow the user data entry control.

Document automation is a powerful solution when done as part of a global practice management solution. When you design a system to collect specific data at specific steps, that data can be used for full document automation, in which users create forms that are instantly customized and available, based on the data that has been entered into the system.

If you are looking for a global solution that starts with your client intake and goes through closing your matters, you should invest in document automation. Document automation will require a system that can capture and store your data, as well as retrieve that data and apply it to your document templates.

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Both solutions require you to have template forms. Document assembly does not usually require any coding (as the software generally handles that for you), while document automation will require your template forms to be coded to receive the correct data from your system.

Selecting the right document solution for you depends on what type of contracts, documents, and communications you want to automate, along with how your team works to complete these tasks. Making sure to analyze this information prior to implementing a solution will increase the effectiveness of your selection and provide a productivity boost to your law firm or legal department.

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