At this moment, the attorneys and staff at the elite law firm of Dewey & LeBeouf are waiting to find out what will become of their firm. Major news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal have covered the issues facing the firm. As usual, it started with the losses of several partners and seemed to snowball from there. And unfortunately, the story doesn’t sound much different from the stories of other law firm collapses.

But what if a law firm could hold on to the knowledge and insights those lawyers had accumulated over the years even if a few of them went to another firm? That’s the goal of knowledge management directors everywhere. And when we’ve worked with these forward thinking folks, we agree that document automation is a great way to institutionalize the insight that goes along with legal documents.

One of the benefits of creating templates for documents is that the knowledge associated with each choice becomes baked-in. You can build an automated template that tells the user, “use this choice if A, but don’t use this one in state B.” It’s like having a seasoned partner offering guidance to the drafter every time that document is generated. And that’s helpful, especially when the author of that form is now at another firm down the street.

Just something to think about for all you Deweys and LeBoeufs out there…