Exari 5.3: Browser-Based Document Assembly

As Published in TechnoLawyer on October 6, 2009: You’ve heard of document assembly, and you’ve heard of cloud computing (Software as a Service). And maybe you’ve even heard about Web-based document assembly tools. But what about document assembly in your own private cloud? That’s what Exari offers law firms that want an on-site solution with minimal software setup. How well does Exari work? Read document assembly expert Seth Rowland’s exhaustive review in this TechnoFeature to find out. Seth doesn’t just review Exari, but he also explains how to calculate the return on investment for your firm. This article contains 2,149 words.

Confessions of a Document Assembly Bounty Hunter

Large law firms have one of those “good problems” — a treasure trove of knowledge in the form of model documents that they find difficult to leverage and even find.

In this issue of BigLaw, former large firm lawyer and current HotDocs consultant Seth Rowland discusses his work as a “document assembly bounty hunter” using his recent experience with an AmLaw 100 firm’s trusts and estates department as an example. Seth explains the process of building a modern document automation system that law firms can modify on their own as their needs change.

How to Bill Every Penny You Earn

If you are going to “bill for your time,” it is critical that you have an accurate record of the work you performed.  If you are looking at Amicus Attorney, please take a look at this White Paper written by Seth Rowland for Gavel & Gown Software Inc.

Top Five Myths About Document Assembly

In this article, Seth Rowland, an application developer of document assembly systems, debunks the top five myths about document assembly software.

In doing so, he avoids the smarminess of many industry spokespeople and even admits to idiosyncrasies and limitations in the current generation of document assembly products. This honest approach has resulted in a valuable article that all law firms should consult before purchasing document assembly software. This article won the MasterPost, a writing contest in The TechnoLawyer Community.

SEO and CMS for Lawyers

In this article, Seth Rowland looks at an approach to website design and search engine optimization, that separates the “technology” and “design” from the “information” and enables (or rather requires) you the lawyer to take an active and continuing role in your firm’s website. Through use of a properly configured web-based Content Management System (or “CMS”), your firm can achieve the goals of (1) effective communication with your existing clients, (2) establishing your firm’s expertise in particular areas of the law, (3) winning at “Google” by establishing your firm as a trusted resource for key search terms.

Document Assembly Primer

With Document Assembly software, processes that took hours now take minutes. Document Assembly is the future of legal document production – the modern attorney should not ask “why” but “how” – and he should ask it soon – before he becomes as antiquated as Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s pen.

Automating Deal and Royalty Management (LES)

This slideshow will demonstrate how to use document assembly to automate Deal and Royalty Management Agreements.

Template Design – Commercial Loan System

Commercial mortgage loan document assembly systems promise to reduce significantly the time spent adapting basic commercial lending forms to facts and circumstances presented by a specific transaction. Technophobes take comfort though – no commercial loan document automation system will produce perfect documents. At best, they will produce very good working drafts quickly.

Real Questions for Future of Law Practice

In this article, Seth Rowland lists the most common questions about document assembly that he has fielded in over fifteen years in the field.

The Cure for Global Warming

Global warming is a myth! Why else would we be sitting here in the tundra just a few miles outside New York City? Why else would we be facing yet another “snow day” away from the office? All kidding aside, whether you believe that “global warming” is the cause of the unseasonable snowy weather or that the snow disproves the warming trend, the reality is that we have had to spend more days “out of the office” this winter than in previous years. These “business interruptions” would have been less severe if you had moved some or all of your business to “The Cloud”.

Brainstorming with MindManager & allCLEAR

Most  lawyers  are  familiar  with  Text-processing  tools  (like  Word  and Wordperfect),  search  engines  (like  LexisNexis,  Westlaw  and  Loislaw)  and  litigation support databases.  However, few have worked with true brainstorming tools that assist a lawyer  in  reaching  conclusions  and  identifying  connections  between  information.

Two tools  that  should  be  part  of  the  “thinking  lawyer’s  arsenal”  are  MindManager®  from Mindjet  (www.mindjet.com)  and  allCLEAR®  from  Proquis  (www.proquis.com). MindManager creates idea maps that let you link issues, facts, documents, and solutions in  a  multi-branching  tree.    allCLEAR’s  FlowCharter  and  Analyzer  builds  process diagrams and lets you evaluate multiple paths in the process to determine which path is optimal. On a scale of one to five, I would give MindManager a 5 and allCLEAR a 4.5.

Affording Document Assembly – The Group Approach

As a document assembly consultant, I am often contacted  by  solo  or  small  attorney  firms  who are overloaded with work, champing at the bit to get  a  Document  Assembly  system,  realize  the value but are understandably nervous at the cost. And,  they  should  be.  Creation  of  a  good document assembly system is expensive in both time  and  money.  So here are some ideas on how to underwrite a good system.

Hogwarts Document Assembly

With the Harry Potter craze continuing, we felt it appropriate to re-instate this oldie!

The Four Options for Mobile PM

Working on vacation may sound like a terrible idea, but like anything it’s all relative. It beats canceling a vacation. Here’s the problem. You can’t manage your practice by calendar and email alone. You need access to your entire
practice management system. In this issue of TechnoFeature, lawyer and practice management expert Seth Rowland runs through the four current options for accessing your practice management system on the go. For each option, he discusses several products, including their pros and cons.

Buyers Guide to Brainstorming and MindMapping Tools

They say that lawyers are not visual people.  Hogwash. We’re all visual. No one’s brain, legal or otherwise, works only in the linear, verbal realm. Thus, it’s likely you could benefit from mindmapping (aka brainstorming) software. And who better to write a buyer’s guide for you than lawyer and document assembly expert Seth Rowland who reviewed allCLEAR and MindManager respectively in two issues of  this newsletter back in 2007. In today’s TechnoFeature article, Seth moves beyond the product review to deliver for you at no charge a full-blown buyer’s guide. Seth discusses nine features to consider when shopping. As a bonus, the appendix to this article lists 14 desktop software and six cloud (Web) products. Did Seth use mindmapping software to create this comprehensive buyer’s guide. Need you ask?

Threat of Legal Process Outsourcing

How would you like a Tim Ferriss-style four hour work week? Impossible you say? Not with legal process outsourcing. Just send that multi-state research memo to India and your eDiscovery review to the Philippines.  Why hire overpriced American associates when you can outsource to cheap, English- speaking lawyers overseas?  Although tempting, legal process outsourcing has a dark side that threatens the American legal industry. In this  TechnoFeature, document and workflow automation expert and technology consultant Seth Rowland identifies the major LPO players, explains what they offer, and then lays out an alternative strategy that American law firms
can employ to reduce costs and compete globally while avoiding the fate of American manufacturing companies that outsourced themselves into extinction.

Should You Cut the Cord and Move To The Cloud

A file server can cost upwards of $22,000 plus another $7,000 per year to maintain.  Should you instead keep that money in your bank account?  But can your law firm conduct  business without a server? In this TechnoFeature, legal technology consultant Seth Rowland explains how you can cut the cord by using “the cloud” — online applications for backups, practice management, and document management. But everything has a downside, which Seth also explores. What’s his verdict on moving the cloud? Read the article to find out.