Q: Is there a critical number of document requests that the document automation for certain situation is already justifiable?


Q: Are there some good resources to access free, good quality model documents?

A: I (John Mayer) don't know about the quality, but Docracy is a startup that seems to be addressing this area.

Q: How might one do document comparison?

A: There are tons of document comparison tools on the web, but this capability is also built into Microsoft Word. See here and here for e.g.

Q: Lexis sold HotDocs, right? So what has taken its place?

A: HotDocs formed their own company when they were spun off from LexisNexis.

Q: Is there off the shelf systems like the GBLS Eviction System in variouse areas of practice? If list where do we find them?


Q: Do any of these document creation programs work on Tablets as well as desk top and laptop computers?

A: I (John Mayer) don't know if any Document Automation apps for tablets. If they are web-based, they would run inside the browser on a tablet though.

Q: Are there any recommendations for assembly programs within Word? For example, thoughts on TheFormTool?

A: We don't make explicit recommendations. I had never heard of the TheFormTool before you mentioned it.

Q: Are there any doc automation programs that run on Macs?

A: Here is the only list I could find. Another option is to monitor websites like The Maclawyer or

Q: Can we get the list of providers of the automation services posted on Wiki, so we can check them out later?

A: Yes, we grabbed the lists from Marc Lauritsen's slides and put them on the course blog here.

Q: What product are you using with the eviction example?

A: That was HotDocs. Marc Laurtisten wrote a paper about it here. There is also a fairly good list here (though it is a couple of years old).

Q: What is the average cost for these platforms?

A: Marc can chime in, but my (John Mayer) experience is that the cost of the software is not the big cost - it's the time you take to learn and develop the automated forms for your practice. This commitment makes the cost of the software relatively insignificant and makes the decision about the choice of tool so much harder.

Q: Are any state or federal courts using document tools in creating official forms?

A: Yes, I (John Mayer) have spoken to many courts who are doing this, but there is no list gathered in one place that I know about. Here is one example in Minnesota. Here is the Online Document Assembly portion of the National Center for State Court's Future Trends in State Courts 2008 Report (pdf/free).

Q: The educational aspect is learning the idea of drafting sensibly. is there a platform that can help you do that with students when you are not very good at technology yourself?

A: CALI is working on just such a project. This will be covered in the Week 7 class with Professor Ronald W. Staudt. The website at and the software A2J Author will be the basis for this project.

Q: Which Doc Assembly platforms master as well non-English documents, e.g. in German?


Q: Do any of the document automation systems work well with OpenOffice/LibreOffice Office Suite?

A: None that I know of, though I (John Mayer) have explored the idea a bit. It would be a nontrivial software development project. It might be better to deconstruct what document automation systems do into component functions and see if they can be individually implemented as web-based software as a service (SaaS). The past of document automation has been desktop-bound/installed or intranet-accessible programs. The future is web-based APIs or SaaS im my opinion.

Q: if one were to pursue a skills-based curriculum today, is it wiser to examine existing document assembly tools, or the ""new frontiers?

A: This is my (John Mayer) opinion. The concepts and skills for using document assembly software are the same whether the software exists today or is one of the newer software-as-a-service systems (SaaS) like RocketMatter or Clio. HotDocs has also announced that they are working on a web-based document assembly service. The best tool is the one that does the best job teaching students and is affordable for that purpose.

Q: how does learning software development going to help a student going into practice? I understand the importance to see the underlying logic, etc, but in terms of getting students ready to use tools out there today, to be ready to jump right in?

A: In my (John Mayer) opinion, Yes, learning software development does help students going into practice. However, I don't believe that law students have to learn how to program, but they should learn to be systematic about and self-ware about the production process for their work output. Writing a contract from scratch the first time is good exercise, but if you want to scale your time and effort, you quickly start looking for shortcuts - i.e. starting from an existing contract for e.g. Next you might collect all the contracts that the firm has created in one place - a document bank. Next you might create a model contract that can be modified for a variety of situations. Finally, you might automated the document (i.e. document automation) so that no steps get lost, all information is gathered and all formatting is handled with the least amount of effort. This will also be covered in Week 6 with Kingsley Martin.