Document Assembly Systems
What They Are, Why and How You Should Use Them
What, Why, and When – Overview
Document Assembly Systems are software systems that can produce letters, pleadings, contracts, leases, etc. customized for a particular client or matter FASTER and with LESS CHANCE OF ERRORS than systems that use only standard word processing software. But the speed and low-error-rate advantages only begin AFTER the systems are properly SETUP and there is adequate TRAINING. If you spend too much time setting up a system for wills in comparison to the number of wills that you do each year, then there may be no time saving.
So, Document Assembly Systems should in general be setup only for:
- Documents you create often.
- Text in those documents that changes often.
Changes or additions that will only rarely be made in your form document should not be, in general, included in the setup of the Document Assembly System for that form. Rather, the change can be made using regular word processing software with the draft, after the Document Assembly System produces this draft.
So, in general, think of these systems as DRAFT Document Systems. Otherwise, you will be tempted to spend too much time trying to make them complete and perfect.
Differences Among Systems
Some contain a great deal of logic, computational ability, ability to detect user errors, tutoring for the user that can substitute for expertise in an area of law, etc. They can also draw client/matter data from a 3rd party database. At the other extreme some are little more than fill-in-the-blank that you could create using just your word processor and that can be used only with the documents sold by the same vendor (but you can modify the draft, of course). Neither is “better” than the other. Each are for very different law offices and clientele.
Names of Some Systems
Hopkins and Associates has been researching and monitoring the development and use of Document Assembly software since 1984.
The most complex and powerful systems are generally created only on a custom basis by a 3rd party programmer that the firm will hire and who will use the highest end “authoring software” from a company like CapsSoft Development Corporation (not its HotDocs). At the other extreme is one of the oldest systems on the market, Drafting Libraries. Both have many satisfied users.
These and other systems are listed below with contact information (in most cases):
Note: Some of these systems are no longer being actively marketed, e.g, the phone number may have been disconnected.
Software Name and Contact (Company or Individual):
HotDocs 5.0 and Caps; Nancy Groll 801-763-3915
Cliff Jones – CAPS independent developer 602-981-6707
WinDraft; Corporate Update Jim Eidelman 313-769-1500
CaseMaster (uses HotDocs) Software Technology 402-423-0006
FirstDraft; Dr. Brayshaw 800-323-2991
JumpStart; Probate Software 800
General Counsel Ken Frank, Esq. 410-576-2040
ExperText; SimLaw 312-444-1030
Agility; Barbara Clapp 617-621-7099
PowerTEXT; Integrated Concepts
Quick & Easy; Diane Brenneman 800-949-2121
Scrivener; Dan Evans 215-233-0988
GPS; Rick Rodgers
R.P.W. Wills System Shepards McGraw 800-525-2474
Amicus Attorney (uses HotDocs) Gavel & Gown 800-472-2289 TimeMatters; Bob Butler 800-328-2898
Its Legal; Business Lawyer;
Family Lawyer Parsons Technology 800-223-6925
Kiplinger’s Small Business Atty. Block Financial Software
PINS (personal injury) Chesapeake Interlink
Legal Ease; Microcomputer Concepts 800-232-1321
Landtech 96 Wyatt Bell 407-833-0454
Easy Draft; PCI Group 800-364-2419
Overdrive; Steven Potash 216-292-3425
FastDraft; ILS Techniques
ShortWork; WorkForm Analytic Systems 415 321 3330
Blankity Blank; Softstream Solutions 305-920-9282
Corbell & Co. (wills) 800-326-7235
Cowles Legal Systems (Wills & Trusts) 715-835-9199