By Request: Any Open Source Apps to Create Legal Pleadings and Documents?

As part of blawgiversary week at DennisKennedy.Blog, I’ve invited readers to send me their questions and I’ll try to answer each of them with a “By Request” post.
Not surprisingly, real life has intruded on my plan, so I’m running behind. However, keep sending your questions in and I’ll see how many I can answer this week.
Here’s the next question:
By Request: Any Open Source apps I can use on Ubuntu to create legal pleadings and documents?”
As longtime readers know, I’m a big fan of Open Source applications and the whole Open Source concept. However, I don’t use any flavor of Linux, Ubuntu or otherwise, so I don’t have an answer based on my own experience., although I have two suggestions for you.
If you are looking for Open Source software, I generally suggest checking Sourceforge to see what specific applications might be available. In this case, however, I’d suggest starting with something much simpler – Open Office. OpenOffice is an Open Source competitor to Microsoft Office. It’s available in a Linux version. I’d check into its capabilities and see if can do what you want it to do. Check some of the OpenOffice resources and forums to see if there are other suggestions. I just did a quick search and found some interesting comments on the topic here.
I’m also thinking that your question also shows some of the reasons Software as a Service (SaaS), or hosted applications, has become such an intriguing alternative. In SaaS, you are able to access the functionality of full-featured applications over the web using only a browser. On Ubuntu, you’d need only run a browser (such as Firefox) and find a hosted service that provides the functionality you need. For example, if you wanted to use document assembly to automate your forms and document creation, you could sign up for a doc assembly service like that from Exari and you be able to do what you want to do in a platform-independent environment.
Those would be my best two ideas. I invite readers to leave comments with other thoughts and recommendations.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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  1. says

    What about Google Apps? We use Google Apps to create some internal documents that we don’t have automated in our system. Has anyone tried that for drafting contracts? Also, Exari is I believe one of the few document assembly engines based on open standards such as Java and XML and is also available as a service.

  2. says

    Hi Dennis
    Open source has gotten easier and easier over the years, especially now with flavours like Ubuntu coming through (which I use). I’m no lawyer, so I don’t need legal templates, so Open Office 3 works 100% for me. I think that if Sun wanted to boost the spread of Open Office, they would bring out a version for legal firms – I that would be a start. The thing that stops the growth, are the vendors, as they all develop for the MS environment, so people keep following. Also secretaries, prefer to use what they are used to, and you can understand that, they don’t pay the bills, and would not get an incentive to use anything else. You are right about Saas, I’m just not convinced people want to have their docs “somewhere out there”. And in South Africa, we still have connectivity issues, so not being able to produce a doc, as we are offline, would drive everyone to serious drink! So good growth in Saas, but at present people are “shy” and it is a little expensive – I think.