Management Assistance Program

Oklahoma Bar Intellidrafts

By Jim Calloway

This is big.

At the Annual Meeting the Oklahoma Bar Association announced Oklahoma Bar Intellidrafts, an automated document assembly service for OBA members. You can enjoy a free trial until the end of 2018 by going to oba.intellidrafts.com.

I’ve given many presentations on automated document assembly, both at ABA TECHSHOW and the OBA Solo & Small Firm Conference. It has been interesting to share the tools that a lawyer can use to automate their own documents. Some firms have automated some documents and processes, but for many lawyers, the quite understandable response (even if not verbalized) reminded me of Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy, “I’m a lawyer, not a computer programmer!”

Oklahoma Bar Intellidrafts is definitely a tool for real lawyers, not computer programmers. It is extremely easy to use.

Before we discuss the details of this new service, let’s discuss forms, templates and document assembly.

Over the years, lawyers have taken offense at comments from outsiders that legal work is often just filling in the blanks on legal forms.

A lawyer once cited rock legend Bob Seger, saying that, while a lawyer drafting a document for a client might operate from one or more forms, the most important thing was to know “what to leave in, what to leave out.” Almost every lawyer has seen a bad result from someone who got their hands on a legal form and completed it improperly.

For new lawyers moving from law school into private practice, having access to checklists, practice aids and, yes, forms are all valuable resources for them that also benefit their clients.

But I’d argue that for every lawyer, using automated document assembly to prepare routine legal documents is a better process:

  • The possibility of mistakes is lessened compared to using copy and paste many times or other manual use of forms.
  • The cost to the law firm of preparing the document is less and hopefully some of the savings can be passed along to the client.
  • To the extent lawyers spend less time drafting and proofreading (and proofreading again) documents, they have more time available to dedicate to legal strategy, legal advice and other more valuable professional client services.

I’ve been exploring the possibilities of automated document assembly for the legal profession for years. Lawyers of a certain age will remember a WordPerfect macro set called the Grande Macros created by Doug Loudenback. It turns out that Doug and I weren’t the only ones in Oklahoma thinking about this.

So was Oklahoma attorney Gabe Bass, founder of Intellidrafts.

“The Intellidrafts platform is the result of me scratching my own itch,” Mr. Bass said. “From the time I began practicing law 15 years ago, I’ve wanted a product to enable me and others in my firm to more efficiently draft high-quality documents for our clients. Any time I drafted a document, whether it was an engagement letter, probate pleading, discovery requests or real estate purchase contract, I was constantly frustrated at how inefficient and error-prone the process could be. I knew there were so many ways to improve the process at every step – from finding a reliable form, to customizing the document for the particular circumstances, to saving and improving the form for future use.

“Over the years,” he continued, “I tried many different products. While some products were better than others, I never found a solution that fully achieved my vision for what could be built to serve lawyers like me by marrying high-quality forms content with modern document assembly technology. I finally came to the conclusion that if I wanted this product to exist, I was going to have to make it happen. What started out as a project to build something for my own use has grown into a turn-key solution that will enable all Oklahoma lawyers to have access to high-quality, technology-enabled forms. I couldn’t be more thrilled that the OBA has joined with Intellidrafts to offer this product to every Oklahoma lawyer who wants to draft better documents, faster.”

Allow me to repeat myself. This is big. It is a game-changer for many lawyers, particularly solo and small firm lawyers. I think it is awesome, but more importantly, you have a chance to try it for free and decide for yourself for the remainder of 2018. It will then be available as an online subscription service at the cost of $300 per year. We hope to add more templates in the future, perhaps with the assistance of some of the other subject matter experts in Oklahoma.

As technology advances, it impacts virtually all types of business operations, including the way law is practiced. It is my opinion that we are going to continue to see more attorneys charging fixed fees for certain tasks or a blend of hourly billing for certain parts of the representation. Professional responsibility for a client’s matter is an important value even as changes in business technology often decrease the time required to do certain tasks.

Sometimes a lawyer might use their prior work as a form or template. There are some inherent pitfalls in that practice. That last project might have something added that is not suitable to the current one or something removed that is. I wrote about the importance of beginning with a great template in Law Practice Magazine last year in a column called “Implementing the Gold Standard.”

The result generated by Oklahoma Bar Intellidrafts is contained in a Word document. So, it is simple to make whatever changes one wishes.

I hope you give Oklahoma Bar Intellidrafts a try.

Mr. Calloway is OBA Management Assistance Program director. Need a quick answer to a tech problem or help solving a management dilemma? Contact him at 405-416-7008, 800-522-8065, jimc@okbar.org. It’s a free member benefit!

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal — Dec., 2018 — Vol. 89, No. 32