Lorrie is a Documator and document automation specialist with over 12 years of document automation and document assembly experience, mostly in estate planning, corporate law and real estate law. As a document automation specialist, she currently works for a law office while she build her document automation consulting practice. She “geeks out” on document automation and truly loves her work.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I currently work for an investigative attorney in San Antonio, and I am building my document automation consulting business on the side.
I received my BA in Sociology and Anthropology at Principia College, a small liberal arts college, on a beautiful campus situated on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, across the river from St. Louis. Immediately afterwards, I completed a computer programming internship with the Civil Service. There, I programmed the payroll system for the Department of Army. Since then, I have taught Reading and Language Arts at the Elementary School level, and have spent close to 15 years in the legal field, wearing the hats of a network administrator, a document automation guru, an office manager and a legal researcher and writer.
What is your document automation experience?
I am a certified Documate Automation Specialist! I also have 12 years experience automating documents in HotDocs and building completely integrated document libraries and packages. I’ve done so for Advanced Estate Planning, Corporate Law, and Real Estate Law. I’ve automated a complete system for generating all the documents necessary for Corporate Record Books. I also worked with very complex documents for Wealth Management and Asset Protection as they relate to the development of Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Family Limited Partnerships, Charitable Trusts, etc. And I also have a little over 1 year experience automating documents in the area of Family Law.
What areas of law or what types of documents do you have experience in?
During my 12 years of experience coding as a document automation specialist, I spent equal time working on documents for Estate Planning and Corporate Law. I also spent time automating documents for Real Estate Law, mostly for Lease Agreements, Purchase Agreements, Option to Buy Agreements, and Warranty and Quit Claim Deeds.
Can you describe your process for how you build a document automation workflow?
After organizing the document into related categories, I markup the text to determine what fields will be needed and to determine whether there will be clauses or sections that are conditional based upon client input.
Then, I determine what fields all the documents have in common, in order to ensure the field names will be consistent throughout the client interviews and document templates. I ensure there are consistent naming conventions for all the fields, so that anyone trying to follow my code at a later date will be able to easily understand it.
Once I have created the necessary components, I can begin building the templates. Once I have test assembled the documents, I can then do a test release to my client, allowing them to use a small group of documents for a test period to make sure everything is populating as they desire and to document issues. Just as with any software application, refinements will always need to be made. Users may come up with a different idea of how they want an interview workflow or legal app to work, or the law and language may need to change.
How do you start crafting the questions you’d like to ask? What interactions do you have with the client throughout that process?
As a document automation specialist, I begin crafting the questions I would like to ask as I am reviewing the documents. I will see things that may need to have alternate options, or phrasing that could be changed to make coding simpler, etc. I document each question as I go, and try to group the questions into categories, so as not to overwhelm my client with a super long conference.
Generally, I will spend more time discussing the project with the client at the beginning of the process. That’s when I am learning his or her goals or unique needs. Once I begin coding, there isn’t a need for as much client contact unless I come across an issue requiring collaboration. During the process, I can be as transparent as the client needs me to be. I keep a document that is updated weekly, in which I keep a running list of tasks I have completed, additional tasks I realize may need to be tackled at a later date, or questions I have for the client. If the client wants to know what’s going on behind the scenes, I can provide a link to my work logs so s/he can see what I’m up to. Once I’m ready to release a test package, I do a screen share with the client. I give a tutorial on the product, how it works, and any specific items they may need to pay attention to. Depending on the client, I can get as fancy with this presentation as they would like.
What are the most important qualities for a document automation specialist to have when working with a client to automate their templates and forms?
Detail Detail Detail! Patience! Organization!
A document automation specialist also needs to have a keen sense of processes and systems in order to see the big picture of how documents and interviews will work together as the end product.
I’ve also noticed that a document automation specialist must remember that often, this is the client’s first experience with creating document systems. They don’t realize how complex it can get, and why you need to do things a certain way. This is where patience comes into play. You often need to teach your client about what you are doing and need to make sure you are explaining in a way they can relate to.
It is also my job to make sure that I am observing, listening, and learning how their operations work. What’s important to them, what their most important priority is, and making sure that I am ultimately making them happy with the final product.
What is your proudest moment?
Hiking the Appalachian Trail, and having a High School Girl’s Wrestling Tournament named after me. (Ask me about this!)
What do you do for fun?
Hike, backpack, swing dance, run, yoga, concerts, and Bunco!
Anything else we should know?
I actually LOVE document automation. It is one of the things in my professional life that I can geek out on!
Want to hire Lorrie as your document automation specialist? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can connect you!