Comment: Why Competitive Law Firms Use Technology to Manage Legal Transactions

By: Haley Altman, Litera general manager of transaction management
No one is still using pen and paper to write contracts—so why are so many firms still using pen and paper to execute them?
For whatever reason, the transaction management process has resisted the march of progress. While we’ve revolutionized much of legal work, most firms are still suffering through laborious, error-prone, and expensive paper-driven deal closings.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Technology has reinvented transaction management, and law firms that have adopted it are gaining a competitive edge.
How Technology Solves the Problems of Transaction Management
To finalize a business transaction, the firm needs to work on getting all stakeholders to sign off on nearly 100 separate pages which can sometimes take months. Everyone has signed scores of pages, to the point where no one is sure what they’re signing anymore. The deal will close, but no one will be all that happy about the process. Lawyers, in particular, will waste an unacceptable amount of time shuffling, scanning, printing pages, assembling signature packets, and hunting down signatures. And the client has little to no visibility into progress, feeling like its deal is a black box.
Now imagine starting with a dynamic checklist, whether it be for due diligence, CP, or signature tracking. The stakeholders upload all of the documents needed into a secure online collaboration site. As everyone reads them, points of contention are hashed out in real time and highlighted for review and approval. Once the documents are finalized, everyone digitally signs the automatically assembled signature packet. That’s it—this part is done. It might’ve taken a day instead of weeks or months.
Here’s how technology streamlines transaction management.
It removes paper from the process. When there are no printed documents, there’s no shuffling, stacking, sorting, or losing papers. Plus, there’s no waiting for physical signatures, mailing or couriering packets back and forth, or worrying about the security of those physical papers.
It centralizes and consolidates documents for collaboration. With centralized documents, versioning is clear. Approved participants can immediately access the most recent version, see changes, comment on documents, and resolve disputes.
It automates repetitive processes. Instead of wasting valuable attorney time wrangling paper, technology offers faster, smoother, and easier document management during a deal. That results in fewer errors and a dramatic decrease in attorney time invested in administrative work.
Benefits for Law Firms
Those early adopter law firms that are using technology to manage transactions have gained a massive competitive edge.
Close faster. Law firms using transaction management technology can accelerate the closing process, as they avoid the laborious process of assembling and checking paper packets or waiting for physical signatures.
Automate processes. In the digital age, why is anyone still printing signature pages, collating packets, or manually assembling closing books? Law firms that automate these processes can generate signature packets and closing books in seconds with just a few clicks.
Mitigate risk. Instead of a back-and-forth physical transfer of documents, which opens the door to sensitive documents falling into the wrong hands, digital transaction management protects clients’ interests—and their sensitive information—by using a secure cloud site for document hosting. This allows for controlled access to documents and simultaneously creates a digital evidentiary archive of every deal.
Enhance collaboration. All parties can easily monitor the status of a deal, comment on text, and review updates without searching through versions or flipping through dozens or hundreds of pages. With full transparency into document revisions and real-time status updates, parties will always know exactly what they’re signing.
Reduce write-offs. Transaction management technology accelerates the closing process and improves the overall client experience as lawyers reduce time spent on low-value activities. It provides up-to-date checklists and dashboards so that lawyers can easily monitor and track the deal’s progress, heading off time-wasting delays.
Together, these benefits reduce the time that lawyers spend on low-value activities, creating more time for legal staff to actually add value to deals. When lawyers aren’t lugging boxes of papers around or frantically searching for signature pages, they have more time to discuss changes with clients, consider the long-term implications of a suggested provision, and negotiate terms.
Law firms that use technology to manage legal transactions end up with more satisfied clients. After all, clients today expect their law firms to leverage technology appropriately—and that includes at the end of the process, when the deal is completed. Happier clients lead inexorably to better client retention, new referrals, and yet more deals, which helps those firms compete in a marketplace crowded with established law firms, startups, and alternative legal service providers.
Haley Altman founded transaction management platform Doxly, which she sold to Litera in 2019.
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