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Law departments should favor firms that have automated drafting for complex transactions

A good example of converting formerly bespoke and expensive drafting into a document assembly-type process appears in Met. Corp. Counsel, Feb. 2010 at 7. General counsel should take note of this general approach. Latham & Watkins has developed a program called Capture to assist with massive outsourcing contracts and RFPs, “based on the kind of functionality that has only recently become available in Acrobat PDFs.”

The author, Alexander Hamilton states several times that the software allows Latham to give clients a fixed fee “for at least that part of the transaction that is very competitive.” Capture also cuts the drafting time in half for even the most complex deals and frees inside and outside counsel to spend more time working through the important issues rather than bogging down in minutia. His group is adapting Capture to handle transitional services agreements in M&A deals and plans to keep extending it to cover other sophisticated, large-scale deal agreements.

Here, then, is a fine example of several points. Fixed fees can apply to portions of a case or matter (See my post of Nov. 15, 2005: gives example for discovery; and Jan. 25, 2006: examples from American Express.).

A second point is that law departments should reward law firms that have embodied their experience in software (See my post of Feb. 26, 2008: document assembly with 16 references.). Indeed,law departments should look to replicate their own knowledge in software where they do a constant stream of similar work (See my post of Jan. 10, 2010: legal department has contract assembly database.).

Third, law departments should seek out law firms willing to change the traditional model of how they provide services (See my post of Dec. 8, 2009: Reed Smith and innovative mapping software for patents; Feb. 1, 2010: missed opportunities to push firms to develop new software capabilities.).

Finally, law departments sometimes might invest in the creation of software and share in some of the license fees that result (See my post of Feb. 19, 2010: combination of Orrick and Cisco for software development; and April 9, 2006: Equitable teamed up with CompInfo on LawPack.).

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