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“On average, lawyers spend 60 per cent of their time drafting documents. If there is a tool that allows them to do that faster and better, then it is an obvious choice.”

Thomson Reuters / Catherine Bamford    

Here’s another post about the promise of Legal Document Automation for both time savings and enhanced accuracy. This one in employment law.

This past Monday Ogletree Deakins — a U.S. law firm known for labor and employment law expertise — rolled out a new software tool for a different set of corporate legal needs: “DIY Arbitration Agreements“.

Their promise: “Generate your [employment arbitration] agreements in Under Five Minutes“.

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“On average, lawyers spend 60 per cent of their time drafting documents. If there is a tool that allows them to do that faster and better, then it is an obvious choice.”

Thomson Reuters / Catherine Bamford    

Catherine Bamford is a UK real estate lawyer (solicitor) who entered the legal industry by practicing with one of London’s most prominent law firms (Pinsent Masons LLP).

An assignment to make Pinsent Masons’ real estate practice “more efficient using automation technology” led to her becoming a “legal engineer” — as defined here at page 25:

An individual with a hybrid skill set that can translate legal knowledge, processes and technology into commercial solutions“.

Bamford describes* “Legal Document Automation” by first explaining how the status quo works:

” … Let’s start with the way lawyers currently draft legal documents by taking a real life example.

“A landlord client calls his lawyer and tells her he has found a new tenant for a retail unit. The tenant is going to be carrying out some alterations and also paying a rent deposit.

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Prolific reporting on artificial intelligence (AI) applications in business can be intimidating. Especially for those of us who lack hands-on expertise in the use of machines to perform cognitive functions.

For business leaders trying to control corporate legal costs I find that a concrete example can help to by-pass the technical stuff to make the P&L impact clear.


Take the real estate sector.

Specifically, consider the management of condominiums*.

We begin with a business problem that confronts all condo managers and their boards. In considering any action — or inaction — they must ascertain: What constraints are imposed by this particular condo’s governing documents?

From — a publication for real estate lawyers:

“CHICAGO–A typical client for Nicholas Bartzen, an associate with Levenfeld Pearlstein’s [a law firm] Community Association Group [a group of lawyers within the law firm that focuses on serving a specific kind of business client — condo managements and their boards], would be a condominium representative whose building has anywhere from four to 500 units and whose board has a question that needs to be responded to quickly.

“The answer can most likely be found within the condo’s governing documents but as Bartzen tells

“‘ The way these documents have been written is anything but uniform.'”

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In Part V of this series I offer the last of my guiding observations as you consider consultations with legal counsel:

4. In some circumstances here in the U.S. you may be better off consulting a lawyer in outside, independent, private practice rather than in-house counsel — because of the way that U.S. courts respond to those two types of attorneys in their application of the attorney-client privilege.

Case study: In Bhandari v. Artesia General Hospital, et al., the State of New Mexico’s Court of Appeals applied to communications with in-house counsel a tougher standard than it applied outside, private, and independent attorneys.

In determining whether or not the attorney-client privilege applied to advice from an in-house lawyer that court asked if the attorney involved was giving pure legal advice versus business advice:

“Application of the [attorney-client] privilege can be difficult when the client is a corporation seeking legal advice regarding a business transaction and when the client’s attorney is in-house counsel who wears ‘two hats’ by performing a dual role of legal advisor and business advisor.”

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