Do You Need HotDocs?
HotDocs is the most widely-used document
automation software. It is appropriate for firms that need to move from
simple mail merge tools such as those included with Word and Word
Perfect, to a full-featured solution that handles optional clauses, IF..
THEN logic and presents an interview-like front end to the user. HotDocs
does all this and more. Before you purchase HotDocs, answer the
1. Does the firm frequently produce similar documents?
2. Do these documents have text in common, but require certain
variations from client to client?
3. Is it taking too long to produce these documents by your current
If you answered Yes to these questions, you firm is probably a candidate
For more on making the document assembly decision, see
Document Automation Makes Sense, by Jim Eidelman.
Here are some guidelines for starting your document automation project:
1. Start with one practice area. Do not attempt to automate all of the
documents at once.
2. Automate only those documents that meet the automation criteria–a
positive answer to the three questions posed above.
3. Get all of the staff involved in the project. If you are starting
with a department, get all of the staff for that department involved.
Everyone will not be a forms author, but there is a role for everyone
who works with the documents: reviewer, typist, content manager, to name
4. Look for pre-programmed practice systems. There are several
publishers of HotDocs forms that are programmed and ready to use. Find
out if there are forms libraries available for the documents you want to
5. Get consulting help. Last, but not least, bring in a HotDocs expert,
especially if you plan to create your own practice system with HotDocs.
They can train your staff or provide document coding assistance.
For more on managing a document assembly project, see “Unlocking the
Power of Document Assembly,” Law Office Computing,” June/July 1999 by
Mark Lauritsen and Alan Soudakof. (If you have pitched your older issues
of LOC, contact me for a copy of this article.)
If your documents are on pre-printed forms form the court or other
source, HotDocs with PDF Advantage can automate those, too. Import a PDF
copy of your form into HotDocs, and you can define fields right on the
LexisNexis is a registered trademark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc.,
used under license.
Time Matters is a registered trademark of Sage Software SB, Inc. and Billing Matters is a
trademark of LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights
Tabs3, PracticeMaster, and the “pinwheel” symbol () are registered trademarks of Software
Timeslips is a registered trademark of Sage Software SB, Inc.