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Legal document automation is the process of using software to create, edit, and manage legal documents, such as contracts, agreements, forms, and letters. Legal document automation can help lawyers and businesses save time, money, and resources, improve accuracy and consistency, and enhance client satisfaction and retention.

Legal document automation is not a new concept, but it has evolved significantly over the years, thanks to the advances in technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP). In this article, we will explore the history, the current state, and the future trends of legal document automation, and how tools like Zegal are transforming business operations by providing end-to-end legal solutions.

The origins of legal document automation can be traced back to the 1960s, when the first word processors and typewriters were introduced, allowing lawyers to create and edit documents faster and easier than handwriting or using carbon paper. However, these devices were still limited in their functionality and flexibility, and required manual input and formatting.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the emergence of personal computers and software applications, such as WordPerfect and Microsoft Word, enabled lawyers to create and store documents electronically, and to use features such as spell check, search and replace, and copy and paste. However, these applications were still not designed specifically for legal documents, and did not offer any automation or customization capabilities.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the development of the internet and cloud computing, as well as the proliferation of digital devices and platforms, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, opened new possibilities and challenges for legal document automation. On one hand, lawyers could access and share documents anytime and anywhere, and collaborate with clients and colleagues more efficiently and effectively. On the other hand, lawyers had to deal with increasing volumes and complexity of documents, as well as higher expectations and demands from clients and regulators.

To address these issues, some software companies started to develop specialized tools and solutions for legal document automation, such as HotDocs, Contract Express, and Documate. These tools allowed lawyers to create and use templates and forms, and to generate documents based on predefined rules and logic. However, these tools were still relatively expensive, complex, and standalone, and required a lot of technical expertise and training to use.

In the past few years, there has been a significant shift and innovation in the field of legal document automation, driven by the advances in AI and NLP, as well as the changing needs and preferences of lawyers and businesses. Some of the main characteristics and trends of the current state of legal document automation are:

  • Cloud-based and mobile-friendly: “Modern legal document automation tools are cloud-based and mobile-friendly, meaning that they can be accessed and used from any device and any location, without the need to install or update any software. This provides more convenience, flexibility, and security for users, as well as lower costs and maintenance.” Says Michael Hurwitz, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  Careers in Government
  • No-code and low-code: “Modern legal document automation tools are no-code and low-code, meaning that they do not require any programming or coding skills to use. Users can create and customize documents and workflows using simple and intuitive interfaces, such as drag and drop, point and click, and fill in the blanks. This makes the tools more accessible, user-friendly, and scalable for users of different levels of expertise and experience.” Says Jeremy Biberdorf, CEO and Owner, Modest Money
  • AI-powered and data-driven: “Modern legal document automation tools are AI-powered and data-driven, meaning that they use machine learning and natural language processing to analyze, understand, and generate legal documents, as well as to provide insights and recommendations. This makes the tools more intelligent, accurate, and efficient, as well as more adaptable and personalized for different scenarios and contexts.” Says Elias Pedersen, Co-Founder,
  • End-to-end and integrated: “Modern legal document automation tools are end-to-end and integrated, meaning that they cover the entire legal document lifecycle, from creation to execution to management, and that they can be connected and synchronized with other systems and platforms, such as email, CRM, and ERP. This provides more functionality, productivity, and consistency for users, as well as more value and satisfaction for clients.” Says Andy Fryer, Co-Founder of Easy Signs

“The future of legal document automation is bright and promising, as technology continues to evolve and improve, and as lawyers and businesses continue to embrace and adopt it.” Says Daniel Foley, Founder of Daniel Foley SEO Consultancy

Some of the possible and emerging trends of the future of legal document automation are:

  • Voice and chat-based: “Future legal document automation tools may use voice and chat-based interfaces, such as voice assistants, chatbots, and conversational AI, to create and manage legal documents, as well as to provide guidance and support. This may provide more convenience, accessibility, and engagement for users, as well as more natural and human-like interactions.” Says Carl Shaffer, Financial Expert, Money4Loans
  • Blockchain and smart contracts: “Future legal document automation tools may use blockchain and smart contracts, which are self-executing and self-enforcing agreements that are recorded and verified on a distributed ledger, to create and manage legal documents, as well as to provide transparency and security. This may provide more trust, efficiency, and compliance for users, as well as more automation and innovation.” Says Anthony Glover, CEO, Asklayer
  • Augmented and virtual reality: “Future legal document automation tools may use augmented and virtual reality, which are technologies that create and enhance immersive and interactive experiences, to create and manage legal documents, as well as to provide visualization and simulation. This may provide more creativity, collaboration, and education for users, as well as more fun and excitement.” Sean Frank, CEO of LA Police Gear

As we stand on the brink of a new era, legal document automation is not just an innovative tool, but a transformative force reshaping the landscape of legal processes. This technology is revolutionizing the way businesses operate by automating the creation, editing, and management of legal documents.

“Leveraging a comprehensive library of templates, legal document automation empowers users to craft legal documents that are both accurate and consistent. These templates, meticulously designed by expert lawyers, can be customized to cater to specific needs, thereby ensuring alignment with best practices and standards.” Says Holly Darani, SEO Specialist at TheWealthPoint

Moreover, the robust features of legal document automation extend beyond document creation. The technology offers e-signing, document storage, analytics, collaboration, and automation capabilities, along with seamless integration with other systems. This holistic approach positions legal document automation as a comprehensive solution for end-to-end legal operations.

“The benefits of adopting legal document automation are manifold. It saves time and resources by streamlining legal processes and reducing the need for external consultants. It enhances client satisfaction by delivering fast, customized, and reliable legal documents. Furthermore, it supports sustainability by minimizing paper consumption and promoting resource sharing.” Says Janki Mehta, Director at Certera

In essence, legal document automation is more than a tool—it’s a trusted partner for businesses, driving a revolution that puts legal power into the hands of businesses around the world.