Rustum Fortune is a lawyer, Documator, and document automation developer in South Africa. As a software developer, he knows how the underlying system works, and can translate the law into logic statements. He has been automating for law firms and legal insurance documents for many years. He has been automating for law firms and insurance firms for many years. Read below to find out more about him:
Tell us a little about yourself.
I currently consult for Law for All with their contract automation team. I have the following degrees:
- I started out at CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology), graduating with my Diploma in Electrical Engineering and Digital Electronics.
- I then completed my BA degree in Human and Social Studies at UNISA (University of South Africa), specializing in Government, Administration and Development.
- I then went on to complete my BA (Honors) degree in Political Science at UCT (University of Cape Town), specializing in Transitional Justice and Democratization. I went on to complete my Post Grad Diploma in Digital Forensics at UCT (University of Cape Town), specializing in Cyber Law
- I then went on to complete my BCom (Honors) degree in Information Systems at UCT (University of Cape Town), specializing in Cyber Law and Courts Interpretation of Digital Evidence.
- I then went on to complete my LL.B degree at UNISA (University of South Africa).
Currently, I have submitted my application for my LL.M with special focus on Privacy Rights in terms of Constitutional and International Law.
What is your document automation experience?
I am primarily a Software Developer, so I can understand code. So learning and using other automation tools is a breeze for me because code is code, and I can get underneath the system.
I have used automation to automate legal contracts for legal insurance firms, including the following document types:
- Attorney Instruction
- Motor Vehicle Sale Agreement
- Motor Vehicle – Consequence and Indemnity
- Policy Holder Referral
- Parental Plans
- Substitution or Discharge of Existing Maintenance Order
- Warning – Unlawful Actions
- Acknowledgement of Debt
- Application for Setting Aside an Existing Maintenance Order
- General Power of Attorney
- Lease Agreement – Residential
- Rejection Letter
- Offer to Purchase – House
- Short Term Insurance Complaint Form
- Pension Fund Adjudicator Complaint Form
- Application for a Maintenance Order (Government Form)
- Application for a Protection Order (Government Form)
- Divorce Pro Forma
- Claim Against the State
- Notice to Vacate
- Letter of Demand for Damages / Torts
- Basic Conditions of Employment
- Cohabitation Agreement
- Divorce Interim Settlement
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Will
- Mutual Separation Agreement
- Law Relations – Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Applications
The most complex automation are those involving calculations, based on input from the Interview form. These are mostly documents that involve a quantum, like Divorce cases and Child Support and Maintenance cases.
- What areas of law or documents do you have experience in? Describe, including the length of time you’ve worked in each.
I am fluent in most areas of South African Law. I started an Accredited Law Clinic (www.ichange.org.za) in my community, and have been providing legal advice since 2010. I was also nominated by Legal Week for General Counsel of the Year in 2016, as one of the top 5 GCs in South Africa for my Community work. My automation experience has covered the following areas:
- Family Law
- Criminal Law
- Civil Law
- Estate Law
- Labor Law
I have recently registered with the online platform Themis (online platform), to understand variations in our legal system (USA and South Africa), but I can understand law and legal principles across legal systems.
- Can you describe your process for how you build a document automation workflow?
So most of the time, there already is a draft that exists and I am briefed by other lawyers. But often, there are many missing elements to make the contract / document legally solid. So I review the draft, identify what might be missing and factor those in. I then look at every possible scenario in the document that would possibly be dynamic in nature and then factor it into the interview form. I also try to make the interview form user friendly, and make sure that its makes sense, so I use tabs on the form and group common elements together on a tab. The automation, together with the revisions, are then submitted to other lawyers who will review my changes / recommendations and then sign off on the document.
- What do you think are the most important qualities for a document automation specialist to have when working with a client to automate their templates and forms?
I think patience and precision are very important. Some divorce pro formas or child maintenance plans can get very long, and the calculations can add additional complexity to the automation.
- What is your proudest moment?
When I was admitted and sworn in to the High Court of the Republic of South Africa. Putting myself through law school was tough and I was tempted to give up more than once. Getting admitted was one of the best moments ever.
- What do you do for fun?
I read a lot and binge on podcasts that deal with science, law, politics, education, news, the humanities. I also invest in providing free legal services to whomever needs me. I enjoy alternate dispute resolution in terms of helping parties resolve issues, without having to go to court. So pro bono work is very rewarding. Pretty interested in Richard Susskinds’ view of where the legal profession is going.