Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):

  • Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve ****
  • Instructional documentation and help system ***
  • Carries out the goal of the product as advertised ****
  • Overall usefulness ****

Drafting Assistant – Transactional version 1.3 software from Thomson Reuters provides drafting, research tools and document analysis from within your word processor.  It offers sample contracts, agreements and forms as starting points for drafting and helps you correct documents that you have drafted by identifying substantive errors and inconsistencies based on the sample documents provided or on documents you have prepared yourself. 

What’s It All About?

Westlaw Drafting Assistant – Transactional  provides sample pre-prepared documents indexed by category.  It also searches Westlaw Classic and WestlawNext for other sample agreements.   In Westlaw Classic and WestlawNext, documents are available by state, including elder law and estate planning documents.  You can also add your own templates under the navigation heading listing available documents.

The main feature is analysis of documents.  The proofreading tool–Deal Proof–alerts you to open issues and discrepancies in defined terms, numbering and punctuation and simplifies document navigation by creating a content and document analysis by connecting terms, cited sources and other concepts. Drafting Assistant–Transactional also helps ensure that needed definitions are included, defined terms are properly located, punctuation is proper, similar phrases and expressions are consistent and numbering is correct.

How it Works

Drafting Assistant – Transactional is installed by download from the Westlaw Store website after purchase of a subscription.  It requires Windows XP SP3 or Windows 7.0 or later (32 bit or 64 bit) and Microsoft Word.  It functions as an add-in to Word.  Installation is done remotely by a Thomson Reuters project manager, and training on the product is then furnished.  Updates are installed automatically. 

As part of your subscription, you have access, without charge, to one-on-one training over the phone with your account manager, live interactive webinars (as scheduled) and short on-demand e-learning modules that can be accessed 24/7.  Courses on working with documents, using research and formatting documents are available online, as well as courses on analyzing tools and drafting tools.

Installation of Drafting Assistant – Transactional adds a “Westlaw Solutions” tab at the top of the Word screen.  Clicking on this tab brings up a toolbar that allows you to select Drafting Assistant, Search Westlaw or Deal Proof. 

Click Drafting Assistant on the toolbar to display Templates and Sample Documents in a left-hand pane. (If you aren’t signed on to WestlawNext or Westlaw Classic, the OnePass dialog box is displayed, where you enter your username and password for access.) 

A line called Transactional Documents displays in the left-hand pane, with a Sample Documents line displayed under it.  Click the plus symbol (+) next to Sample Documents to display a list of sample documents, then use the plus symbols to open specific documents under the heading you desire. 

The sample documents include categories such as Business Financing, Corporations, LLC, Partnership, Real Property, Retirement Benefits 401(k) and Securities.  Click the plus symbol (+) next to the name of a category to list the available sample documents.  Clicking on the name of a sample document brings it up on the right hand pane.

Personal folders are provided to help you organize and manage documents and selected text. Click My Documents in the left-hand pane, then click the plus symbol (+) next to My Folders under Documents. By default, a Language folder is provided.

When you open My Documents, lines appear for you to set up new folders and import local documents.  To import documents into your personal folders, click Import Local Documents. The Import Language/Model Docs dialog box is displayed.  You may use this to import a document from your computer, open a draft document or copy-and-paste selected text.  Depending on the option you selected, the Import to Drafting Assistant or Save File dialog box is displayed. Click the plus symbol (+) next to My Folders, select the folder into which you want to import the document or text, and click Import or Save.

Other forms are available on Westlaw Classic and WestlawNext.  Click Search Westlaw on the toolbar, then click Search with Form Finder on the menu.  A list of states is displayed from which you can select state-specific forms that include, elder law, estate planning, tax and corporate forms. A dialog box appears from which you can search for the form or statutory language you desire to view.  Available are over 750,000 forms, including both Westlaw “official” PDF forms and forms created by West authors. Some forms may be outside of your specific WestlawNext or Westlaw Classic plan and involve a small additional charge.  You may copy text here and paste or drag it into your document in the right-hand pane.  From Search Westlaw you may also search a collection of Sample Agreements on Westlaw Classic and WestlawNext made up of business agreements derived from disclosures made to the SEC by public companies.

After you have imported or created a document in the right-hand pane you may analyze that document by clicking on Deal Proof on the left-hand pane.  The options Analyze, Clean and Tools then appear.

Click Analyze to analyze your document for errors and inconsistencies.  The following items are checked when a document is analyzed:

•       Terms that appear to require definitions have been defined.

•       Defined terms are defined only once.

•       Definitions are located as stated in the document.

•       Punctuation is properly paired.

•       Similar phrases and expressions are stated with consistency.

•       Numeration is correct at all levels in the document.

Documents referenced in your main document can also be analyzed.

“Flags” then appears in red on the left-hand pane.  Click on Flags to view errors and discrepancies found in your document.  You can click on an item in the Flags list to jump to that item in the document.  You can also display an outline of the findings in your document and generate a report of the flags, references and an outline of findings that you may view or send as an email attachment. 

The document in the right-hand pane is editable in the normal Word fashion and you may use the Flags to prompt your editing. 

The Tools option enables you to select and adjust a variety of settings, actions and colors for Flags.  You can select Clean to remove all markings and hyperlinks that Deal Proof has inserted intoyour document.

What About Help and Support?

Helpful PDF documents titled “Using Drafting Assistant-Transactional” and “Drafting Assistant-Transactional Getting Started Guide” are furnished. 

A help facility is available from any screen, although help is not context sensitive.  It provides information for the operation of the Drafting Assistant, Deal Proof and Westlaw components.  The Drafting Assistant help includes an Introduction and articles on using Drafting Assistant, importing documents and text and searching Westlaw.

A Getting Started Guide and Quick Reference Guide (in PDF) are available.

Quick, practical tips on using Drafting Assistant – Transactional are also available that discuss finding open issues in a document, using personal folders in drafting, creating reports and inserting comments in documents. 

Where Do You Get This Facility?

Drafting Assistant – Transactional is available from the Thomson Reuters, Westlaw Store.

Website:  http://store.westlaw.com/westlaw/transactional/drafting-assistant/default.aspx

Purchase is through your Thomson Reuters account representative. 

Westlaw contact information is at http://store.westlaw.com/support/contact-us/default.aspx

Bottom Line

Drafting Assistant – Transactional Software provides a variety of stored documents related to the trusts and estates practice and, most importantly, allows you to analyze and find problems and issues with the construction of your documents, whether imported from Westlaw or originated from your own practice.

Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.

Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at dhkelley@qwestoffice.net.