Drafting mistakes that can be avoided with document automation software


Drafting a document is part of a daily routine for legal professionals. For junior lawyers, this routine involves modifying a firm's template to adjust it to the requirements of a particular case. More experienced lawyer will verify the work of a junior and draft more complicated, tailor-made clauses.

In every phase of document drafting, mistakes can happen regardless of the experience and expertise of the people involved. Drafting errors can occur because of insufficient processes, carelessness, or fatigue.

In this article, we will address some of the most common mistakes that can be easily avoided with document automation software.

Inconsistency. Think of data that appears throughout a document. With a document automation software, the user needs to insert repetitive data only once and the software will implant the data throughout the document. This reduces the chance of the repetitive data being misspelled or other inconsistent.

Omissions. Experienced legal teams have their templates prepared in a manner that makes place holders, that need to be filled-in with real data, easily detectable. However, even then, a human can miss a place holder or two, especially if the template is long. Document automation software warns the user whenever a place holder is left empty.

Wrong format. Certain data, such as personal or company ID, passport number, bank account number, tax number etc have a predefined number or characters or combination of letters and numbers. Document automation software allows users to enter such data only in the format that is legally required.

Misinterpretation of the template. Document creator may not always understand how to make certain elections in the template or which text to insert. For instance, he may automatically elect to include a "non-compete" clause in an employment agreement, without knowing that such clause can be binding upon the employee only if the employee's job is of such nature that allows the employee to acquire new important know how or important business information. Document automation software allows you to insert guidance to future users as to the criteria to be consulted when choosing between different predefined scenarios. It also guides you how to answer a particular question which then translates into a provision in the document.

The foregoing problems can be avoided with a document automation software if it is properly used. Proper use presupposes recognition that document automation software exists to assist but not to replace human input.