Say what? Filevine Introduces Proprietary Document Format to “Become the New Standard in the Legal Industry”

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In news that had me checking my calendar to see if it’s April 1st, practice management company Filevine says that, as part of a new document assembly feature, it’s developed a format proprietary document, “.vine”, which it says will replace Microsoft Word and Google Docs in the legal industry.

“We believe Document Assembly and .vine will become the new standard in the legal industry, replacing word processors that are ill-equipped for the job,” said Ryan Anderson, Founder and CEO of Filevine. “Basically, legal work is about producing and exchanging complex documents. By integrating this task into our platform and connecting it to all the case data collected by Filevine, we allow legal teams to streamline a crucial part of their work. »

Before I tell you what I think, let me say that Filevine is a very popular product and the CEO of the company, Anderson, a former lawyer, has always struck me as a very savvy business leader . Investors apparently think so, too, as the company raised $108 million in a Series D earlier this year (after which Anderson was on my LawNext podcast to discuss the deal).

Let me also say that I have yet to directly discuss this news with anyone at Filevine. A spokesperson told me he could schedule an interview for next week.

But I have to wonder if that $108 million was a fun money bonanza that left the folks at Filevine looking for ways to spend it.

Misconception

The idea of ​​a single company creating a proprietary document format that it hopes will become the industry standard seems counterintuitive and misguided for several reasons.

  • First and foremost, the future-oriented approach to document standards is to create vendor-neutral open standards that can be used on all platforms and can be structured using common protocols, such as XML. Granted, the legal industry is far from achieving this, but that should be the goal.
  • Second, even outside of the issue of open standards, there is already a vendor standard that rightly dominates the legal industry. That’s not to say a new standard couldn’t come along and knock Microsoft Word off its throne (remember WordPerfect?), but even Google gave in to enabling .docx editing in Google Docs.
  • Third, companies need to meet their customers where they are, not force them to learn new formats. Where they are on Word, and for Filevine, to think that its .vine format can become the legal industry standard is mind-blowing.
  • Fourth, and this stems from meeting clients where they are, the clear trend in the legal industry, as I wrote recently, is toward interoperability, driven by the idea that so many legal professionals suffer from platform fatigue.
  • Fifth, the exclusive format of a single practice management company will never become the norm in the legal industry. This would require one of two things to happen. Either every attorney should switch to the Filevine platform, or every competing vendor should adopt Filevine’s format. Does Filevine think there’s even a remote chance of either?

I could go on, and I don’t have the benefit of hearing directly from Filevine why he went this route. But it seems to me that if a company wants to create a better document assembly that will become the industry standard, do it on Word.

Based on CLM technology

As for the news, Filevine said that this new .vine format was developed to “power” its document generation tool, Filevine Document Assembly. It relies on document technology developed by contract lifecycle management company Outlaw, which Filevine acquired in 2021.

“Document Assembly automatically populates data, clauses and other information stored in Filevine to speed up the generation of legal documents and ensure their accuracy,” the announcement reads. “Combined, .vine and Document Assembly introduce a much better way to write complaints, demand letters, interrogations and more.”

“In 2017, when we decided to create a new word and document processing format from scratch, we focused on contracts because they are more difficult than other legal scenarios in terms of workflow, content structure, negotiation/redlining, permissions and version control,” Evan Schneyer, CTO and co-founder of Outlaw, said in the announcement.

“We felt that if we could solve these problems in the contract space, we could solve them anywhere. And now, the .vine format represents the extension of Outlaw’s proven contract technology to add many formatting capabilities that are mission-critical in a broader legal context: contract-specific headers and branding. company, pleading lines, captions and much more. »

Filevine says its new document assembly tool will allow users to:

  • Auto-populate data stored anywhere in Filevine, including names, dates, tables, expenses, company assets, saved clauses, and more.
  • Synchronize data bi-directionally, which means changes to data in a .vine document automatically updates data in the Filevine database, and changes in the Filevine database are automatically pushed to .vine documents .
  • Use conditional logic to make .vine patterns fit multiple contingencies. For example, conditional logic can automatically change the language of a letter to an insurance company depending on the type of insurance (liability, UIM, no-fault, etc.).
  • Make annotations and comments to facilitate contextual comments and precise edits.
  • Securely store and share documents with clients, colleagues and co-lawyers. A .vine can be viewed in any web browser or exported to docx or pdf format.

“It never made sense for lawyers to use the same word processors college kids use to write their first term papers,” Cain Elliot, chief legal futurologist at Filevine, said in the announcement. “With this launch, we are equipping legal teams with the first document technology that stands up to the complexity of their work.”

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