The legal sales process normally culminates with the signing of a retainer or fee agreement, which formalizes the lawyer client relationship. As you probably know, chasing down signatures is not an easy task, and because law firms cannot bill for those hours, it pays (literally) to make the process of drafting and getting client agreements signed as efficient as possible. The documents themselves tend to be standard templates that only require minimal customization, making it a perfect opportunity to leverage the power of document automation. In this post, we’ll show you how to automate your client agreements using Lexicata in order to save time on drafting and getting signatures.
How to Automate Your Client Agreements
Below is the list of steps from start to finish walking you through the process for how to automate your client agreements using Lexicata. (If you don’t already have a Lexicata account, feel free to check us out or click the green button at the top of the page to get a free demo of our product).
Create a new document template in the Template Editor
First of all, you need to create a document template (or templates) in the system. To get started, just visit the Lexicata Template Editor, and click the “Create New Template” button in the top corner.
You can create as many templates as you want and use them for a variety of different purposes. You will also have the ability to duplicate a template once it has been set up in order to create separate versions of a document with minor modifications.
Paste in the body of your document
We’re not big fans of data entry at Lexicata, so the good news is, you can just copy/paste all the text from your existing Word doc into the template editor to save time.
You can use the text formatting tools to make any required changes to the appearance of your document so it looks exactly how you want it to look.
Adjust the document settings if necessary
Next, depending on the purpose of this document, you may want to customize the document settings by clicking the “Edit Settings” link.
In document settings, you can adjust the number of different people and/or companies whose information you would like to automate into the document. Use the dropdown menus at the top of the settings page in order to add more people or companies to your template. In the example below, I selected 1 person and 0 companies.
Lexicata also makes getting engagement letters signed incredibly easy through an embedded e-signature solution via our partner HelloSign. You can choose whether or not this document template will be e-signed by answering “Is this document signable?” in your document settings.
To create a template that does not need to be signed, but needs to be automated (e.g. a letter of non-representation), select “No” for your answer. Otherwise, select “Yes” and choose how many different contacts outside your law firm will need to sign the document (you can have up to 4 signers). Click Save Settings when you’re done.
Add default and custom fields from your contacts and matters
Now that you’ve input your document body and applied the appropriate settings, the next step is to insert placeholder fields where the automation magic will take place. Lexicata allows you to insert any of your default and/or custom contact or matter fields into a document.
Simply use the dropdown menus to insert a placeholder field. You can choose whether the fields pertain to the person, a company, or the matter. Person fields are shown in yellow, and matter fields are shown in orange.
Add in any signature blocks and date fields
You can also insert HelloSign’s e-signature fields if the document is signable. The template below shows a sign date field highlighted in blue. These fields will automatically be replaced with a fillable text box where the signer can input text, today’s date, or draw/type a signature when the final document is generated.
Save your template when you’re done, and that’s it! You now have a fully automatable document template that you can use to streamline the drafting process for all your new client agreements.
Send a Lexicata intake form to collect any required information from the client
Now that your template is built, you’re ready to automate your document. But first, make sure you have all the information to replace each of the placeholder fields in the template when you draft the document.
That means that you need to create a contact and matter to associate the document with, and you need to have all your custom fields filled out with the appropriate information. You can collect this info using a Lexicata intake form.
You’ll notice in the form above, the client was able to input the state of incorporation as Delaware. This question is connected to the custom field called “State of Incorporation” in my Lexicata account, and was also used in my document template. When the document is drafted, the data from this question on the intake form will automatically be inserted into the new document in place of that field.
Start the document drafting process
Once you have all the information you need, you’re ready to get your new client agreement drafted and signed. Simply initiate the “Prepare Document” process from the matter page, and assign which contact’s information will be automated into the document, and which contact needs to sign the document.
In the example above, John Doe was assigned to be the person whose info will be inserted into my document, and he was also designated as the signer because he is the primary contact person for this particular business formation matter. When you’re done, click the Draft Document button and watch as the magic happens!
Confirm the changes in your new draft
Instantaneously, your client agreement will drafted from your template and all your placeholder fields will be automatically replaced with real data.
Notice that the replaced data is all underlined with a light blue dotted line so you can review all the changes before finalizing this document into a PDF. The client’s name, the description of his matter, as well as the state of incorporation (Delaware) have all been instantly automated into the document.
Send it to the contact for easy e-signature
Once you approve the changes and ensure that everything looks ok, the final step in the process is to generate a PDF and send it out for e-signature. This process is also streamlined and made incredibly easy using our custom email templates and HelloSign integration.
Notice above how the signature block and date fields were automatically inserted in place of those blue code snippets from the original template. Now all that’s left to do is click Continue, and email the document out for the client to sign.
The email is drafted instantly from an email template, and a custom document URL is inserted automatically. This link is where the client will go to access the document securely to add an e-signature.
The client will receive your email, and they can open up the document to sign it using any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Once signed, you’ll receive confirmation, and the executed document will be submitted back into your Lexicata account where you can download it. Your client will automatically receive an executed copy as well.
Just like that the entire process of drafting and getting your client agreement signed is complete!
As you can see by the sequence of steps outlined in this post, Lexicata makes document automation extremely easy.
No longer will you have to spend 15 minutes customizing a template for each and every client, a process which can be prone to errors and oversights. The drafting happens instantly, and reliably each time.
Not only that, but younger tech savvy clients will be thrilled that they don’t have to download, print, and scan a document in order to send it back to you. They can literally open the email on their iPhone, sign, and submit it in a matter of seconds.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Lexicata can help you automate your client agreements, collect information via online client intake forms, or any of our other features, feel free to schedule a free product demo using the green button at the top of the screen!