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Document Assembly Coming Apart?

Way back in 1986 and 1987 I was an editor of Document Assembly News, published by the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section.  The early enthusiasts of document assembly, a watered-down expert system for creating drafts based on if-then logic, thought that the technique would sweep through the law.  It didn’t. 

Law departments would be logical candidates for using document assembly where they have repetitive documents.  The classic example is non-disclosure agreements (NDA).  Events have proved otherwise.

In the hundreds of law departments I have encountered, less than a handful have made use of document assembly.  Its allure, nevertheless, continues to lie in the areas of knowledge management, consistency and quality, ability to leverage work to paralegals, and an automatic database.  Those allures have failed to win the hearts and minds of law departments.  Using macros, marking up earlier agreements, keeping to rigid form documents, and having some form clauses available has gotten everybody by.  It seems in law departments document assembly has dispersed.