- Learn about the advantages of using a new tool that will improve your writing.
Westlaw has ignited the drafting and proofreading process with the latest addition to their lineup of document generating tools, Westlaw Drafting Assistant – Transactional. The program acts as a lighthouse guiding transactional attorneys through the potentially murky waters of document drafting. This new service is powered by Westlaw Next and provides attorneys with all the tools they need, where they need them, in their Microsoft Word toolbar. The features make it easier to draft any number of legal transactions, from corporate mergers to real estate transactions or trusts and wills. I practice oil and gas law and find the program to be very useful and cost-effective when drafting joint operating agreements and leases. Like its older brother, Westlaw Drafting Assistant – Litigation, Drafting Assistant – Transactional puts a host of expedient tools at your fingertips, making precision and accuracy only a few mouse clicks away.
Westlaw set out with the goal of creating a more accurate and cost-efficient program for document drafting. One way they achieved this goal was by reducing the time it takes attorneys to start drafting a document. Drafting Assistant – Transactional integrates with Westlaw Next to provide a database of templates and sample documents that you can navigate through without ever leaving your word document. Once you open Microsoft Word, go to the Westlaw Solutions menu in your toolbar to find your Drafting Assistant. This brings up a panel on the left side of your screen connecting you to your My Documents folder. This folder offers quick access to documents and templates that you have previously used. If you find yourself drafting something new, there are a variety of samples and templates provided by Westlaw. You can also navigate through the templates available on Westlaw Next without leaving your document.
One group of features that impressed me early on was the editing tools. Under the Document Analyzer menu in the Drafting Assistant panel, you will find the following options:
These tools shave a substantial amount of time off your document editing. For instance, there have been multiple occasions where I have printed a document and discovered these mistakes:
… for three (5) years…
… for the sum of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00)…
To prevent this, you simply have to navigate to Drafting Assistant’s Analyze, which will then scan your document for a variety of mistakes and flags them. The program looks for common errors such as defined term discrepancies, number discrepancies, punctuation issues, and other potential hazards. Examples of defined term discrepancies include errors where a technical term is defined but is not capitalized when it later appears in the document, or defined but then never used, or if a term is defined more than once. The program will flag number disagreements like the one mentioned above, along with discrepancies such as starting off a paragraph with “(II)” when there was no paragraph “(I).”
The analysis also flags any blank spaces or multiple question marks, along with dates or information left in brackets that need to be finalized before the document is ready. It will compile these flags into a list of “Open Issues.” The program will flag any unpaired punctuation, such as a closed bracket that is not preceded by an open bracket. Another neat feature, found under References, is the document link. The program looks for references within your document to other documents and gives you an opportunity to link to those documents so it can scan for discrepancies in those documents as well. It will also list out references made to cited sources, defined terms, and cross-referenced sections.
Once it is finished analyzing, a list of potential problems will appear in the panel to the left of the document. The list is broken out into categories and within each category is a hyperlink taking you directly to the potential error. The side panel also creates an outline of your document while you are drafting it, making it easier and faster to jump around from section to section in longer documents.
Once you finish reviewing all the flagged issues, you can remove all the flags from the document by clicking “Clean” in the side panel next to the “Analyze” button.
Unfortunately, at this time Drafting Assistant – Transactional is not available for Mac users. It is built to integrate with Microsoft Windows XP or Windows 7. The program requires Office 2003 or newer platforms, along with Internet Explorer 7.0 or later in order to use Westlaw Next. For Microsoft users though, it is a valuable addition to your document drafting tools.
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