As the heading suggests, the idea is that content publishers (for example law firms or law societies) can create precedents with question fields and make them available to subscribers or external clients in a secure online environment. The law firm clients can then complete the agreement/form/document remotely without the client having to come to the law firm’s offices. Although most of the early adopters of this technology have been State Bars (US Law Societies), some law firms are offering this as a service to their major clients to improve retention. Locally, some technologically advanced firms are using this for new client take-on (“onboarding”). In the latter case, the client completes the data themselves – all done “while you sleep”.
You could summarise it as “Document Automation for Clients” for those who understand how document automation works.
South Africa’s leading document automation system, XpressDox, recently launched this new extension to their existing product which takes document automation to the next level. The product is called XDPublisher, and you can read more about it on their website https://xdpublisher.com.
There are two profiles for XpressDox Publisher, the Publisher (owner of the content) and the User (user of the content). For this explanation, let us assume the “Publisher” is the law firm and the “User” is the law firm’s client.
The law firm (Publisher)
- Signs up for XDPublisher and creates templates (on MS Word and XpressDox) that will be used by their clients.
- Adds a single URL link on their own website which will allow their clients to access the templates library.
- Invites and adds clients to their template service, who will then have access to the agreements/forms/documents.
- The Publisher can create multiple “Products” which could be folders of templates or even a single template, and access to these products can be limited to certain users if required.
The client (User)
- Accepts the invite from the law firm and sets their own password.
- Views the agreements/forms/documents and chooses the one they wish to complete.
- Answers the questions in the interview and then saves the resultant document to their local drive for privacy and security.
The advantages to the law firm
- The system is web based, so no software is needed for the client to compile their documents.
- XDPublisher integrates with your firm’s website, so the client can feel safe about using the service.
- It is really easy to use, so no training is needed for the clients.
- Client access is managed by the law firm. You provide logins and passwords.
- Precedents remain your own IP and are not viewable to people without access you provide. Precedents cannot be “stolen” off the system.
- The personal information resides on the client computer and not on the XDPublisher server or the law firm’s website. Brilliant for POPIA and GDPR privacy guidelines.
- Communicate with clients as they log in they see your message you publish.
- XDPublisher is hosted on secure Microsoft Azure servers with full geo-redundancy and daily backup procedures.
Advantages for the client
- Easy to use.
- Web based, always available from anywhere.
- If the internet disconnects, the client can save the current interview process and commence again once the connection is restored.
- PDF preview of the precedent either before or during the filling of the document, to get an idea of what the completed document will look like.
- Regularly used firm details for the client are stored on their computer and auto completed when needed in the document templates. This information can be edited by the client at any stage.
- Resultant document can be in MS Word and/or PDF format. If required the PDF can be encrypted so that it is not tampered with after the completion of the document.
Both the Publisher and User have access to useful reporting.
Firms looking for a professional value-added service for their clients should really consider this application, and those law firms already using XpressDox should definitely leverage the hard work they have already put into creating their internal templates and consider making them available to their clients for client retention.
“We have had some good traction on this product internationally,” says Chris Pearson, director at XpressDox. “They already understand that they need to adapt to the changing legal profession, and providing content to their clients online is a smart way of becoming more effective and more efficient.”