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What features should drafting software provide?

Trending in meeting conversations, strategic business plans and lessons learned: Leverage the “next big thing” to reduce expensive risks and add a chunk of profit into small law firm coffers, quickly and without a painful transition.

If there’s one lesson small firms have learned in the past eight years, it’s that how you work matters as much to your bottom line as the work you produce. Administrative delays, typos and conflict mistakes are costly. And there are affordable technologies on the market for this purpose: legal drafting software, built and applicable only to the legal industry, can make a huge impact—enough, according to a Thomson Reuters study of attorneys conducting actual legal work, that 90% of attorneys said that it results in fewer citation and copy errors.

Because of this and several other factors, drafting tech is likely to be the “it” innovation that small law firms implement in 2016. Drafting software makes a real impact on small law firm profitability…and simultaneously helps attorneys enjoy a less stressful lifestyle.

Where do you start looking for the right drafting program? Of course Drafting Assistant, the solution offered by Thomson Reuters isn’t the only item on the market that is billed as a drafting technology, so choosing the right one is important. Here’s a convenient shopping list for small law firms to be sure your investment will bring the best return.

Tech approach

Fits into your workflow (“integration”) 
The drafting software should be compatible with, or even integrate directly into, your existing word processor so it can become part of your regular workflow. You should not have to launch more than one program to draft and revise the document, check for errors and inconsistencies, and discern how new laws and other developments might change it.

“One size fits all” 
In this case, too much individuality seriously undermines your ability to catch errors and omissions in documents that are not in your individual/firm writing style-such as documents from other firms, model documents, and legal forms. In the case of drafting software, a “one-size-fits-all” technology approach will maximize your chances of spotting legal issues, no matter where the document or text originated.

How it’s built

Proven results 
Choose software that has been tested on millions of documents.

Easy to use 
Drafting software should be intuitive and feel like a natural extension of your thought process.

Specific features

Legal errors 
Does the software instantly identify potential drafting mistakes? Separate from spelling or formatting mistakes, a true legal drafting software will pick up on inconsistencies between clauses. For example, multiple parties may make changes during the course of negotiation that undermine the meaning or legal integrity of the draft.

Verify good law 
Does it offer citation updates pulled from a trusted, up-to-date online source?

Updated formatting 
Your software should also ensure that the format of your document meets the specifications of the applicable legal form, which could cause problems with filing or local court requirements.

Custom reports 
Often, a printed or scrollable report of the flagged issues will help identify the strategic decisions that still need to be made.

Cross-checking 
Ensure consistency across references, defined terms, citations, and other components.

Outlines 
You should be able to view and edit document outlines easily, letting you have a meaningful structure of the draft.

Authority tools 
Does the software let you quickly identify legal authority within the document, and build a table of authorities using the information found? Performing these tasks will save a small firm hours of tedium that could be used on more strategic work.

Explore the features and functionality of Drafting Assistant, built with the expertise of attorney, editors and developers at Thomson Reuters.