Will Document Automation Disrupt the Legal Profession?

Legal technology pioneer Marc Lauritsen asked me to publicize the following roundtable discussion that will be held as part of the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s Fall Meeting in a few weeks. I’m happy to do so because this topic is so fascinating. I’ll be at the roundtable discussion, titled “Will Document Automation Disrupt the Legal Profession?” Hope to see you there.
Marc writes:
A roundtable discussion sponsored by the ABA’s eLawyering Task Force:
Saturday, October 22, 11 am to 1 pm
Loew’s Hotel, Philadelphia
This is the first in a series of roundtables on technologies that have the potential to disrupt the legal profession.
Document assembly software automates the production of legal documents, usually through an interview process. You answer questions and a custom draft is automatically built.
Although the concept is simple, many applications involve sophisticated decision trees and web interfaces. Automation processes for self-help business users can have built-in “trap doors”: safe documents are generated automatically but questionable ones are routed to a lawyer for review.
Document assembly has not lived up to its promise, despite the huge efficiency gains it creates. One big barrier to adoption by law firms has been the billable hour.
Some law firms use document automation to sustain their current practices. Some deploy extranets through which clients can assemble their own documents. But most firms look at these endeavors as unattractive, downmarket opportunities.
In the meantime, corporate law departments like Cisco’s are e-lawyering large swaths of routine document work. Courts and legal aid programs are delivering free online forms to the public. And a variety of nontraditional legal service providers with capital and entrepreneurial zeal are clamoring to seize opportunities evidently being left on the table by lawyers.
The session will begin with several short presentations, followed by group discussion.
Marc Lauritsen will give a short history of document automation and its current state of development, both in terms of technology and in terms of applications.
Darryl Mountain will apply Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovations to the document automation industry.
Richard Granat will discuss disruptive business models such as We the People U.S.A. and his own mylawyer.com and directlaw.com.

For more information, contact Marc directly – info at Marc’s website at http://www.capstonepractice.com.
You can expect this roundtable to cover some of the areas I’ve referred to as Fourth Generation Legal Technology. The roundtable should also be an excellent way to whet your appetite for BlawgThink 2005.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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