Do law and notary firms already use document automation?

We asked Eva Peeters and Saskia van Egmond, two women with hands-on experience in this field.

We asked Eva Peeters, co-founder of L-IME and ICT specialist for law firms how many law firms have already started using document automation. Her answer: most large law firms have been using the software for a while, but smaller firms are only starting with document automation now.

Saskia van Egmond is also an ICT consultant has 8 years of experience as a candidate civil-law notary and was one of the founders of Hema Notarissen in 2013. She tells us that in the notarial world document automation is more mainstream. According to her, civil-law notaries are a lot further in this issue than lawyers. She suspects that this is due to the software suppliers who helped them, but also because of the way they work. The way of working is more systematic than what you see with lawyers. Document management systems, in particular, are more advanced with civil-law notaries.

Nevertheless, the gap between the two groups is large. Why are law firms lagging behind? According to Eva Peeters, this is due to external and internal factors.

External: the price

Until recently, document automation software was relatively expensive. The larger offices with larger budgets can afford to use it, but for the small and medium sized offices the business case was simply not positive. This was due to two factors. First of all the providers who offered the software as a service were generally international and asked unaffordable prices for smaller firms. In addition, it was complicated for firms to modularize their own documents with the software. Specialists had to be hired for this, which made the whole operation even more expensive.

Internal: our documents do not fit in a tree diagram

Another much heard argument to wait with document automation is that firms don’t work as much with standard contracts because all of the documents they sell are unique and are therefore impossible to automate. This is reinforced by the fact that many firms work with different departments that each use their own templates. It can be quite a challenge to create one firm-template out of all these different department templates.

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