Blog

The 6Rs: Six Legal Document Risks That Drafting Technology Mitigates

Thu 15 Jun 2023

Law firms and corporate legal departments have long understood that people are fallible. Errors can easily happen in every step of legal work, particularly when lawyers are under pressure and working with tight deadlines. But this understanding does not relieve legal professionals of the responsibility for detecting and correcting mistakes—or the pain of suffering their consequences should they fail. One missing word, one typo, or one wrong dollar amount can snowball, resulting in significant consequences for legal professionals, law firms, and their clients.

In our latest eBook, we discuss the various risks associated with document drafting and show how modern technology and automation can mitigate those risks for legal professionals in any setting.

What are the Six Risks of Document Drafting?
Before the pandemic, drafting and perfecting documents involved a systematic approach, supported by technology, processes, and people that were available within the office. Now, law firms and legal departments must adapt their approach and empower lawyers to draft consistently outstanding documents in the office, at home, or anywhere else—all while mitigating the risks those processes pose, including:

Risk 1: Revealing a Client’s Personal Data
Due to the process of duping and revising when drafting documents, legal professionals run the risk of revealing previous client data in new documents, risking their personal and firm reputation.

Sharing a client’s personal data can lead to consequences that range from mild to severe, such as:

  • Loss of either or both clients’ trust, causing damage to the lawyer’s reputation
  • Loss of either or both clients’ business, reducing the practice’s revenue
  • Breach of confidentiality agreements, resulting in an ethics complaint or professional discipline
  • Non-compliance with applicable data privacy regulations, leading to fines or sanctions
  • Malpractice claims, causing further financial and reputational costs

Risk 2: The Risk of Small—but Significant—Errors
When proofreading manually, legal professionals run the risk of missing small errors in their documents. Even when small errors don’t have immediate consequences, they diminish trust. After all, lawyers in any practice have a duty to represent their clients well and serve their interests.

If legal documents have small mistakes—even as simple as typos or grammatical errors—clients recognize that they’re not receiving the firm’s careful attention. These mistakes erode trust in the lawyer and the broader legal team, causing the practice’s reputation to decline.

Risk 3: Missing Important Feedback in Collaborative Review
Given how complex legal documents are and how many changes may be applied throughout the collaborative editing process, it’s all too easy for a lawyer to inadvertently accept or reject a change they shouldn’t have. As a result, the edited document may fail to capture everyone’s input—even if that input was vital.

If that incorrectly revised document is then shared with a client or submitted to a court, the lawyer may have to deal with a frustrated client whose comments to a senior partner weren’t incorporated into the final draft or an aggravated court that demands the document’s revision and resubmission.

Risk 4: Improperly Sharing Metadata
When a lawyer shares a document with an external party, the information in its metadata is also shared. This may reveal personal information about a client, confidential information about a matter, or internal information about time-tracking or document authorship. If a lawyer created this new document by copying a similar document, the metadata of the prior document will remain, potentially exposing sensitive information from previous clients, matters, and projects.

Sharing documents with intact metadata can result in the same types of damage as sharing documents that include another client’s personal data in their text, from noncompliance and loss of trust to malpractice claims and reputational damage.

Risk 5: Data Breaches
Lawyers usually use Microsoft Outlook to communicate with internal and external stakeholders. But sharing unencrypted legal documents through Microsoft Outlook allows the possibility for bad actors to intercept information and use it against the organization, law firm, or client.

Files that are too large to be sent through Microsoft Outlook create a separate problem. In these situations, lawyers might try to use a different file-sharing system, increasing the risk that their documents could end up in the hands of hackers.

Risk 6: Improper or Incomplete Redaction of Sensitive Information
The process of redaction involves blacking out any sensitive information, which lawyers often do by inserting black boxes over specific text. Once this process is complete, the lawyer saves the PDF and shares it with the relevant parties.

However, if redaction isn’t done correctly, a simple edit to the PDF document is all it takes to remove those black boxes and reveal the sensitive information below it. That information is then available for anyone to see, exposing the lawyer, law firm, or organization to the significant—and, by now, familiar—risks of noncompliance and loss of client trust.

Download the complete eBook to understand the various risks associated with document drafting and how Litera Desktop can mitigate those risks for legal professionals.


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