If you’ve followed our blog for any length of time, you’ve heard us talk about the document drafting lifecycle—the process of creating, checking, and collaborating on documents that takes attorneys from a blank page to a finished product.
But what actually goes into that document? While we provide the technology, the lawyer is the one who has to come up with and organize the concepts, sections, and definitions they need. The content itself is on them. Therein lies a double-edged sword: while lawyers can often rapidly fill in a skeleton of that content by leveraging pre-existing content, trying to do so can create a workflow gap.
The Workflow Gap Caused by Identifying and Leveraging Your Best Content
When creating a new document, lawyers are likely to begin in one of two places. They may start by perusing their content repository for an existing document that can provide a template. Or, they might open a new Word document and start from scratch. Either way, they’ll make faster work of their document creation if they can find, identify, and use their best prior content.
Whether it’s individual clauses for use within contracts, paragraphs summarizing points of case law such as individual elements of claims or defenses, or definitions or standard explanations, they’ve probably already written portions of what they need. It may be scattered across different storage silos or organized in a central document repository—and that repository might be maintained and updated, or it might not.
Once lawyers find prior examples, how do they choose which one to use in the document? Your knowledge manager may have built up a content library of the firm’s best clauses which they keep up to date. Or they may have access to an artificial intelligence (AI) application that helps identify the most-used clauses across your document management system.
Yet here’s the problem: using these old snippets—remembering when they did work on a similar issue, locating that language, plugging it in to their new document, and ensuring that they have the correct version that’s been edited, corrected, and updated with recent case law, references, and citations—can take longer than just rewriting the content. If this process is too disruptive, difficult, or time consuming, lawyers just won’t do it. They’ll reinvent the wheel instead, creating yet another version that may not be fully consistent with the firm’s requirements but that gets the job done under time pressure.
In short, the content and institutional knowledge they need doesn’t always exist where—or when—they need it, in Word itself. Even if lawyers can quickly peruse their content library and identify suitable content in it, they have to do that search in a different environment, in a different program, not where they’re creating that new document.
Bridging the Gap: Creating a Content Library Right Where You Need It
But there’s a way to leverage the prior work currently within your content repositories and put it at their fingertips within Word: by integrating the AI technology which is identifying that most-used or most-cited sections with your drafting technology. It’s just another way that AI can manage the individual trees so that lawyers are freed up to tend the forest as a whole, creating the right document for this client and this situation without getting bogged down in the details.
With an integrated content repository embedded within Word, you can bridge the workflow gap by putting a custom-built library of clauses, definitions, and paragraphs just where they need it. This makes it easy to identify the best content and incorporate it directly into a new document without changing programs, toggling screens, or breaking train of thought.
This is one of the problems we’re starting to solve in 2019 through a soon-to-be-announced initiative. If you want to learn more, contact us today.