The best document automation software for law firms

The Best Document Automation Software for Law Firms

Knackly is the the best document automation software for law firms. If you read Saving Money with Knackly: A Legal Document Assembly Software, it will explain how Knackly saves you time and money. Now we’re going to look at why Knackly is the best automation system for law firms today.

Benefits of Knackly

User-Friendly and Easy to Learn

  • Staff overturn seems to be at an all-time high right now; even in more stable periods, training new staff to automate your documents or even just to use your automation system can take valuable time away from getting work done.
  • In fact, with other automation systems, we’ve found that it generally takes a new trainee six months of full-time automation work to reach an intermediate level of competence (i.e., reach a place where they can automate most of your documents with a fair amount of efficiency).
  • Generally, it will take that same trainee another six months (a full year) to become truly proficient – to reach a point where they are able to automate complex documents quickly and easily maintain your automation system.
  • With Knackly’s user-friendly architecture, we have been able to reduce this training time by 50%. We also have a variety of resources to help new automators reach proficiency faster – these include training activities in a step-by-step learning course and a knowledge base with many articles on how to better use Knackly.

The best document automation software for law firms

Quickly Connect Your API

  • As a law firm, you almost certainly use a client management software – TimeMatters, Clio, ProLaw, SalesForce, etc. You have to have a way to organize your client’s information and use it effectively in your firm, and most attorneys have turned to either client-management or data-management systems to accomplish that task.
  • Other document automation programs lack the ability to easily integrate with these systems – the integration is referred to as an Application Programming Interface (“API”) connection. While it is possible to integrate to other automation systems, the process is costly, time-consuming, prone to bugs, and requires an advanced programmer who is familiar with both API connections and the particular automation software.
  • We built Knackly with the central idea of making API connections easy and error-free. Knackly has a native open API and uses data formats that allow easy access and connection to external databases like client-management software. This allows Knackly to access the client information you’ve already entered in your database in a way that is pain-free and easy to manage. Knackly’s ability to quickly pull information from your existing databases means that you spend less time entering data – and less time correcting typos.

The best document automation software for law firms

Intuitive and Fast External Intakes

  • For law firms who have an online external intake, most web forms are slow – or difficult for your clients to navigate. They can also be time-consuming to program and maintain as your firm’s needs change. If you don’t have an online external intake, your clients have to go through the hassle of filling out paper or pdf forms, and your staff spends a great deal of time entering that information into your client management system – and making sure the information is accurate.
  • Few, if any, other document automation systems include a native form that will automatically pull your client’s information into your documents; Knackly does, help making it the best document automation software for law firms. Our external intake is fast, easy to maintain, and user-friendly – your clients will be able to answer the specific questions you need. Knackly also allows you to include instructions for your clients, which can be text, images, or even videos.
  • The information your client inputs to the Knackly external interview is pulled directly into your Knackly document automation, so there is no entry of information by your staff – and no worry about typos or mistakes from your staff, because all of the information is preserved exactly as your client entered it.
  • Knackly also allows you to cross-populate the information from the client’s external interview into your client-management system. This means that your staff doesn’t have to take the information from Knackly and re-enter the data anywhere; it simply comes across and will stay updated if any of the information changes, whether in your client-management system or in Knackly through Knackly’s native API.

The best document automation software for law firms

Faster Automation

  • Document automation involves an up-front investment of time and money for exponential long-term benefits, but there is a certain amount of initial effort to reach that result. While this is the nature of document automation, and the long-term benefits vastly outweigh the initial expenditure, we still believe that the initial process should be as fast and easy as possible for our automation clients.
  • This is why we’ve ensured that Knackly’s automation system can be implemented 30% faster than is possible in other automation programs. For example, if a client’s document project might take one hundred hours in a traditional automation program, Knackly would be able to accomplish the same automation project in seventy hours – and we’re planning on reducing that to forty or even twenty hours in the future.

As you can see, Knackly provides law firms with flexibility, options, and ease of use that other document automation systems just can’t. Knackly’s unique structure overcomes many of the challenges that competing automation systems still struggle with; choosing Knackly as your firm’s automation system will help you avoid getting bogged down in old, unreliable systems that cost more and do less.

The best document automation software for law firms

Now that we understand how Knackly is the best document automation software for law firms, due to the time, money, and peace of mind that Knackly will save you. It’s time to walk through the steps of actually automating your documents.

Preparing Your Documents: This is the step where the “up-front effort for long-term benefit” of document automation comes in. While Knackly makes document automation quick, easy, and incredibly efficient, your documents must be in good “automation shape” for those benefits to take effect. This is true for any document automation system. There is a direct relationship between the shape your documents are in when you start automation and how easy and fast that automation will be.the best document automation software for lawyers

  • First, decide the documents you want to automate. While you can (and many of our clients do) eventually add all of your documents to your automation system, you want to get the biggest benefit as fast as you can from automating.
    • This means that you want to choose the documents that you use most frequently. However, you also want to balance the complexity of the document with your automation skill level.
    • Where you are just starting out, you want to choose documents that are fairly simple, so that you can learn Knackly while still making progress on getting your automation up and going.
    • As your skill level increases, you will start adding more complex documents – try to maintain a balance between how frequently used the document is and how complex it is.

The best document automation software for law firms

  •  Second, you need to get your documents in good shape for automation. While you may feel that your documents are ready to start automation, you should still review the items below. The core idea of these steps is to ensure that the base documents you start to automate are as close as possible to how you want Knackly to produce them. The base document you start with is what will carry through to your Knackly system. For each document you are preparing, you should think about the following:
    • Versions: do you have several different versions of this document? For example, many estate planning attorneys have a “husband/spouse 1” will, a “wife/spouse 2” will, and a “single client” will.
      • If you have multiple versions of the document, it’s best to compare the versions and pick one that best exemplifies the language, provisions, and formatting you want to use. You can compare the documents in word to see what the differences are.
      • Ideally, you will put all the different provisions and pieces of language you want to use in one base document to automate. You will be able to use Knackly to bring in the appropriate section for each specific case, but it’s much faster and easier to have everything in one base template than it is to try and make sure your “single will” template and your “married will” template are both correct and updated.
    • Old language: is the document really up-to-date with the best language and provisions that you want it to have? Are there any changes that you or your staff consistently make when you draft this document to revise old language or correct errors?
      • Like with the versions step above, you want to end up with one base document that you will use as a template for Knackly. Make sure that all the language provisions are exactly how you want them to read, that there are no spelling or grammar errors, and that the formatting is how you want it.
      • Whatever your base template is will be how your Knackly documents come out, so you want the template to be exactly as you want Knackly to produce it.
    • Optional provisions: are there any provisions or optional pieces of language that you add to this document in particular circumstances?
      • In order to create your base template, you want to make sure that every option you want to use is included in the template you will create. For this starting point, you can differentiate between the optional provisions by making comments on the provisions that are optional or highlighting them and adding notes as to when each provision should be used.
    • Numbering and styles: if you use numbering and styles, are they consistent across your documents? Do you have brand or a look that you want your documents to follow? If so, is it correct and up-to-date in this particular document?
      • If you use Word styles, they will carry across through your templates. It can be a good idea to save all of your styles as custom styles in each document so that they are the same across the board, and don’t get affected by styles on different computers. However, there is a balance with doing custom styles and using Word’s native headers or table of contents, so you’ll need to decide what works best for you. Go here to learn more about Word styles.

The best document automation software for law firms

  • Third, is a process we call “markup”. You’ve already started this if you have added or marked any optional provisions in your documents through the steps above; now you’ll just finish marking any part of the document that will change.
    • Language to markup generally includes all personal information related to the case (party names, dates, addresses, pronounce, etc.), but also includes any piece of language that you want to be optional or only occur in certain circumstances. These can be as small as one paragraph or as large as a whole article or section – whatever you need in your document.
    • Best practice for optional provisions is to make a note of when you want that provision to get pulled into the document, so that when you are automating you don’t have to stop and think about the circumstances when you want to use that provision.

The best document automation software for law firms

Automating Your Documents: This is where the Knackly automation magic really shows how it is the best document automation software for law firms. Automating your documents means learning the Knackly system and taking the base documents you’ve prepared from a simple document to an automated template.

  • Automation in Word: Go into the base template you’ve created for a particular document; we find it is best to go document-by-document rather than try to automate several documents at the same time.
  • Save New: While not technically required, we find it is best practice to save all of the “base” documents you created in the steps above in a particular location separate from the rest of your documents. From now on, you want to refer to the base documents as your templates.
    • Saving the templates in a different location ensures that the changes you make as you automate them don’t affect the existing documents you have (so your existing documents don’t get changed while you still need them), and keeps you organized so that you always know where your templates are.
  •  Create Variables: For every place in the template you have marked up, you will need to create a variable. This can either be a piece of information (names, addresses, or phone numbers), or be a condition for the optional language (i.e., if you want a section of your document to only come in when a client is married, you would create a variable where you can choose whether the client is married or not).
  • Insert Variables: Place all the variables you’ve created into the template. For pieces of information, you’ll replace the information you’ve marked with the variable, while for conditional language you’ll surround the language with an if . We go more into detail about automating your templates and Knackly’s terminology in our learning course and knowledge base. (As with everything, it’s a good idea to periodically save your template so you don’t lose work).
  • Upload and Save: Once your template has all of the variables and conditional pieces you want, you will upload the template to the Knackly site, either through your Knackly Online Workspace or through your Knackly Word Designer. Once you have saved the template to Knackly, it will be available to you to use over and over again.
  • Create or Add to App: To actually use your template, you will either need to create a new app for it, or add it to an existing app if you already have one set up. Once the template is added to the app, the app will automatically ask all the questions relevant to your document when the app is run.
  • Run App: You can now either run the app internally, or if you have set up your app for external interviews, you can send the link to the app to your clients and they can fill in their information.
  • Produce and Download Documents: After the person using the app clicks “Complete”, the app will generate documents for you based on the templates that are in the app and the answers that were provided during the interview. The produced documents will appear under the record created for that particular client and you’ll be able to download and use them just as you would use any other Word document. Congratulations, you have automated a document using Knackly the best document automation software for law firms!
  • Revision: As you review how the document comes out in Knackly, you may find you want to make changes as to how it produces. This is easy; you simply make changes to your template and re-upload it to Knackly. When you re-run the app, a new version of the document will generate based on the changes you’ve made. With this process, you can easily maintain and make changes to your templates.

the best document automation software for lawyers

While there is some up-front work, you can see that the process of automating your documents is straight-forward and user friendly; if you follow the steps above you will be automating your documents in no time. You can also take a look out our courses designed to help you learn Knackly quickly.

If you would like to learn more about how Knackly, the best document automation software for law firms, can benefit your firm, click here to schedule a demo.