Further Thoughts on Document Assembly

I was thrilled to see that contract drafting guru Ken Adams picked up on my post yesterday about document assembly and refers to the inexorable rise document assembly. I’ve learned a lot from Ken’s books, articles and blog, so it’s a nice treat for me to see that he reads my blog.
However, it’s another post by Ken today called “If They’ve Been Promoted, Why Should They Still Be Writing Contracts?” that really got me thinking about document assembly.
The post discusses the old question of whether partners should be drafting contracts (at partner hourly rates) rather than associates drafting contracts (at associate hourly rates).
Of course, this raises all of the issues about hourly billing versus value billing, and whether lawyers communicate the value they bring to the process or whether they are seen as mere scriveners.
Adams cuts to the heart of the matter with his money quote:

The solution isn’t to have partners more involved. Instead, associates should be less involved: drafting should be commoditized.

For me, the very essence of the role of document assembly is encapsulated in this comment, the implied questions it asks, and the answers to those questions that we might generate. Read Ken’s entire post in that context and see if you agree with me.
By the way, I’m also reminded by the oft-heard comment that lawyers should learn to type faster and that a slow-typing lawyer costs a client more money because you have to pay for extra typing time (as if thinking is not part of the drafting process). Document assembly, properly employed, offers a quantum leap over increased typing speed and lets you apply the knowledge and expertise that you’ve developed over the years. That is the flip-side of commoditizing drafting and a very interesting place to be.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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  1. says

    You’ll not only see more of a move by corporate law departments and large law firms to document assembly – but you will also see a greater emphasis on off-shore lawyer outsourcing that will employ document assembly methods in the coming years.

  2. mary dumont says

    I am only an occasional reader of your blog, but greatly appreciate your enthusiasm for technology. I am only an occasional reader because the posts seem aimed more at lawyers who work with big companies, and that is not me. But, this thread on document assembly provokes a thought I have had for a while, which is: what will happen to the solo practitioners and small firms who cater to small companies. I am not one, I litigate, but I have colleagues who make a living doing routine corporate work for small companies. What do you think is the future of that type of work? In the same vein, what about routine wills, etc.?