After more than 14 years running a firm specializing in estate planning and probate, Cleve Hill, of Hill & Watchko, was looking for a way to improve efficiency for repetitive processes like document drafting and filling out standardized court forms. “Our practice is largely transactional,” explains Hill. “There’s a lot of repetition in those documents. And before we found Lawyaw, there was a lot of cutting, pasting, searching and finding.”
Like so many other firms, Hill & Watchko’s documents were kept in Microsoft Word files, which weren’t always delivering the best possible results for his team. "I don't know the inner workings of Microsoft Word,” says Hill. “While Control+F might search the body of the document, sometimes we'd have a misfire and it wouldn't catch something in a footer.”
As the firm grew, manual processes for copy-paste or search-and-replace became increasingly problematic. “We found, as our practice got busier and busier, doing that ‘search and replace’ opened the door for errors… John Doe’s document may end up saying John James somewhere in the footer,” he says. Those embarrassing mistakes had the potential to cause issues with clients, and staff felt the strain of investing time and effort to create documents with less than ideal outcomes. “We needed to put our best foot forward. That's where the automation has enabled us."
As a smaller firm, the impacts of inefficient and ineffective processes could have an outsize impact on business and staff alike. During Hill’s search for a solution, a colleague recommended he checkout Lawyaw. After one conversation, Hill saw how the cloud-based platform could improve their document workflows and decided to give it a try.
"It's been one of the easiest additions to our practice."
With Lawyaw’s user-friendly interface, it didn’t take long for the team at Hill & Watchko to begin converting their Microsoft Word documents into reusable, programmable documents.
"We saw the benefit of it since the first day we used it."
Having incorporated Lawyaw into the practice successfully, the tool has an essential part of their operations. Their team gets together on a regular basis to identify other documents that haven’t been templatized yet and discuss what kind of opportunities automation provides. The entire organization appreciates the time-savings and reduction in errors compared to their old document process.
Here are some of the benefits Hill & Watchko achieved after implementing Lawyaw:
1. Documents that used to take 45 minutes to an hour now take 10-15 minutes.
Achieving more than a 75% reduction in time spent on routine drafting delivers significant productivity gains (and improved profitability) for the firm. Productivity and efficiency are the cornerstones of success for smaller firms. Implementing Lawyaw has made measurable improvements in these areas.
2. A happy team is a more productive team
"We're a small office. Having everybody I see be happy and upbeat in what they do is important,” Hill explains. “Our paralegals are able to use the automation and get documents done in a snap. If you added up all the ones they were doing in a day with control-find and proofreading, they're getting back an hour a day. That's important."
3. They continue to find new opportunities
“A decent size of our practice is probate... In Georgia there is a standard set of forms that attorneys are encouraged to use when we're filing with probate court,” says Hill. “Those documents are not very user-friendly in the way they're set up."
"Before we set them up in Lawyaw, it was physically going through with the mouse and clicking and typing throughout. It would probably take 45 minutes to an hour to put together. With Lawyaw, we can input the basic data in 10-15 minutes, and then focus on fine-tuning the legal arguments."
"That time efficiency is something we've been looking for. In our staff meetings, we're always talking about where we can find efficiency. We're looking for repetitive processes that we can pull in. Someone said, `Let's give it a try with the standard form probate petitions’ — and it's worked beautifully. Now we can use that time back to focus on making the pleadings as legally solid as possible—bringing the value directly to the clients."
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