Our goal has always been to make your life better, to empower you to get back to what you actually enjoy doing and to do what you do best.  We’ve sought to do this by creating the best document automation solution we could and then introducing the legal world to the idea that document automation can truly make lawyers’ lives better.

It’s time for a big confession

We were wrong.

The legal world knows all about document automation.  It’s not that lawyers don’t know about document automation, it’s just that it doesn’t make their lives better in a way that brings immediate return on investment and is easy to adopt and implement.  Even when document automation systems are affordable – $5,000 – $10,000 a year for a firm of just 20 or so lawyers according to one of our current customers – it just makes lawyers’ lives worse.  Yes – per that same new evangelist of ours – worse:

. . . this “pretty cheap” system meant that you “have to literally read a binder that’s an inch thick” to figure out how to use it.  “… even the simplest task in their system was too complicated. I couldn’t make changes myself.”

We’re not sure how we missed it, but one thing has become very clear: the legacy document automation software companies that said that they were making lawyers’ lives easier actually have been in many ways making lawyers’ lives worse.  Legacy document automation technology was created when such systems had to be complex. All of the breakthroughs that we have today in technology, like standardized platforms, AI and Agile development, to make systems and software simple, just didn’t exist back then. So while legacy document automation software could create tremendous productivity gains, those gains came at an even more tremendous cost to those who had to use it.

The legacy document automation people get all of that.  They are smart people. They’ve seen the customers churn.  They’ve seen the law firms that give up after building a few templates because it’s so difficult it’s just not worth it.  But it’s too late for them to change their technology; they are locked in. So now they are resorting to doing anything it takes to survive, even if it means, as we revealed a few weeks back, terrifying their own customers into submission.

We’ve tried to figure out how we can best get the word out that things have changed, finally, for the better.  In one of our team meetings one of our team members blurted out that the situation reminded them of their personal “Guilty Pleasure Songs” that they were embarrassed to tell anyone about: Cher’s “Believe” (Don’t worry, Mike, your secret is safe with us).

So how is Cher’s auto-tuned, “epic game changer”, at all like document automation?  Admittedly, this seems like a stretch, even for us.  But we’ve run into many lawyers who have had promises made to them and not kept . . . who’ve been burned before and don’t want to get burned again . . . who need to find the courage to admit that they’ve been burned and just move on – to try once again.

It’s so sad that you’re leaving

It takes time to believe it

But after all is said and done

You’re gonna be the lonely one, oh

As we’ve been told by one of our other customers and fans, there are an awful lot of you out there who do need to move on: “One of the problems with a lot of legal tech is that it sucks.  It’s overpriced. It doesn’t do what it says it does. Frankly, it’s sold to folks who don’t use it.” But we know that you’ll get through this, because as Cher’s “biggest club record” ever tells us:

Well, I know that I’ll get through this

‘Cause I know that I am strong

And I don’t need you anymore

Oh, I don’t need you anymore

Oh, I don’t need you anymore

No, I don’t need you anymore

In all seriousness

We understand that it’s easy for us to say that Woodpecker is different.  Believing us, especially after you’ve sunk thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into software that you don’t even use, is a lot harder.  But things have changed – and changed for the dramatically better – in the software world since those old legacy companies started selling their overly-complicated, overly-expensive systems.  We could go on forever, but we’ll spare you that pain and just cut to the chase: here are the 3 big reasons why – all of which we’ve mentioned before (maybe we should have put a “<SPOILER ALERT>” warning on that?):

1. Platforms

When HotDocs and similar systems were released decades ago, they had no choice but to be stand-alone software that took time and expertise – and often hard-won IT approval – to install.  Now we all live in a world of “platforms” – bigger systems that we all use and that do the hard work of maintaining your system for you. Because we’ve built Woodpecker into the Microsoft O365 platform, you don’t have to install anything, you don’t have to patch anything, you just work in Microsoft Word as you have always done.  

2. AI

We know that AI is a big buzzword these days, and a rather vague one too – it seems to be used as a placeholder for any sort of “automagic” system that mysteriously does stuff for you.  Pulling back on the curtain of AI, we see that it is just a way of detecting patterns, sometimes with supervision and learning capabilities thrown in as well (which we call “Machine Learning”).  The patterns that AI can detect often show themselves in your documents, where there are variables for key elements (names, dates, amounts, etc.) that can be turned into template fields.  

Legacy document automation was released long before AI was ready for primetime, and it required you to laboriously read through, identify, and then hand-code all of those variables.  That’s the number one reason why we’ve heard document automation gets bought but never actually gets used. With Woodpecker, we’ve been able to build in that AI from the start to do that work for you and ensure that your team actually uses and gets value from the platform.

3. Agile

It’s something of a cliché that startups get their start in garages.  It’s perhaps even more of a cliché that they soon outgrow them.  Or at least they used to. It used to be that software companies had to scale up fast before they even got to market, to hire a big team to build the system, market the system, sell the system, manage the customers, etc.  Meeting the never-ceasing demands of constant build-outs inevitably dragged companies’ attention away from what really matters: their customers’ needs. It’s hard to hear the voice of the customer when it has to filter through the many layers of a corporate org tree.

At Woodpecker, we’ve been able to bring our revolutionary system to you without having to distance ourselves from you.  We’ve been able to listen to our customers and issue product releases on a regular basis to incorporate your feedback and ultimately make yours, and everyone’s lives better.  We’ve been able to stay lean – we’d probably still fit in a garage . . . well, a big garage, with no cars in it or room for band practice. We’ve been able to do that because, unlike decades ago, the infrastructure, for Agile software development, for small, virtual teams, for WeWork style start-up space, is now available to all of those who can adapt to it.

So, if you haven’t tried Woodpecker yet, if you don’t know if you’ll be strong enough to let go of your legacy system that you don’t even use, we’ll help you find the courage to move on – by making it easy to install and try Woodpecker.  And until then, stay strong!

Do you believe in life after love? (after love, after love, after love) . . . 

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