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Six Benefits of Document Automation for Legal Firms

Download the PDFThree people around a computer at a legal office

Can you imagine there was a time when businesses would debate whether to buy computers or carry on using a typewriter? As ridiculous as that may sound, debating whether to adopt document automation software might not be so different from thinking your office can do without computers.

Law firms are constantly dealing with documents and it would obviously be beneficial if they can do their work faster and better. If you need justification for embracing the modern approach to handling documents, here are the benefits of document automation for legal firms.

It Saves 80% of Your Time

How long does it currently take you to create a document? Now imagine cutting that time by 80 percent. Automation frees up time for lawyers to concentrate on practicing law instead of drafting and editing documents. When you think of all the things you need to do to prepare a contract manually and compare it to simply answering a few questions and letting the machine do the rest in just minutes, there should be no doubt that document automation is a win for a legal firm.

Enables Fixed Pricing While Maintaining Profits

For most legal firms, pricing is determined by the time spent on the job, this is usually an unpleasant option for clients who would rather pay a fixed rate. When you automate your documents, you spend less time drafting the documents so you cannot charge by the hour. If for example, a client wants a contract written, they would have it ready in an hour or less so it makes sense to charge a fixed fee. The fixed fee can even be lower for the benefit of the client but the firm will still make a profit because they can serve more clients and make more money.

Produces Error Free Documents Without the Need for Proof Reading

Errors can be costly to a law firm and that is why they have to be meticulous when they peruse documents for errors. This however takes a lot of time and yet sometimes some errors still manage to escape detection. With automation, however, the error check is done during the creation of templates which is usually a one-off activity. This guarantees the documents that are generated will always maintain a certain level of perfection even if no one proofreads them. This saves the firm money and embarrassment.

It Reserves and Builds Knowledge That can be Shared

The process of designing templates usually involves input from the best legal brains in the firm or at times you can outsource the knowledge. For example, if a firm chooses to automate partnership agreements, they would find the lawyer with the most experience in that field to help design that template. In the end, everyone can use that template to create partnership agreements and the document will always be as excellent as one drafted by a professional. Even if that individual left the firm, their knowledge will be available to everyone within that firm.

Opens up New Avenues for Business

Document automation equips the law firm with added capabilities. The firm can take on new requests from clients for specialized services. For instance, a firm may be able to engage in real estate business even though they originally handled only insurance cases. This is made possible by the fact that they can generate any kind of document using the new software as well as the knowledge that can be preserved and shared through the use of templates. Many legal firms have been able to expand their business after adopting this technology.

Guarantees Quality and Uniformity

Everyone within the firm must be on the same page. While you may instruct individuals about how to create documents on behalf of the organization, you cannot be sure that they will always follow the guidelines. With automation, however, the firm will be controlled by the templates. Aspects like font style, spacing, and use of numbering will be predetermined. This means even someone new to the firm will not have trouble catching on and following guidelines since they have little input when it comes to creating documents.

Conclusion

The legal industry like any other business needs to remain profitable and efficient. Finding faster ways to do work and still maintain quality is essential. Document automation offers that solution and no one should be left behind. At the same time, it is important that the software chosen is intended for use by legal professionals.

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Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

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Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

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Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

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Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

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Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

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Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

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Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

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PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

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Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

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Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

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Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Written by:_
Genesis Abel

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