The launching of new legal tech startups is one of the most exciting parts of ABA TECHSHOW. One of them this year was Lawyaw, a cloud-based document drafting platform. I stopped by their booth in Start-Up Alley on the expo floor to see the product and chat with David Gomez and Tucker Cottingham.
David and Tucker said Lawyaw’s big feature is using AI to improve the drafting process. They showed a feature they are working on that will allow users to upload their own Word documents and PDFs while the software does the heavy lifting to identify variables and create fields automatically. If it works well, any lawyer could create his or her own custom drafting packages fairly easily. And that’s important, because Lawyaw only has California court forms pre-loaded at this time.
Lawyaw also differs from more traditional document software by being cloud-based, meaning it will work the same on PCs and Macs. Since many programs in this category tend to run on the desktop and within Microsoft Word, this flexibility is welcome news.
Lawyaw already integrates with Clio, too, meaning it can pull client data from Clio to fill in document fields. I didn’t ask if the integration goes the other way—if data and documents created in Lawyaw can be pushed to Clio.
I did ask if drafting in Lawyaw (via a browser) will preserve detailed formatting options in Word documents. I’m talking about the details of good typography, like line spacing and kerning, that simpler online document software can’t manage. David assured me those details would be preserved.
Lawyaw also has built-in e-signatures, at no extra cost. I’m happy to see this feature becoming more common among all kinds of legal software.
My biggest unanswered question is whether Lawyaw will work for complicated drafting, such as drafting sophisticated wills and trusts. Its website currently focuses on litigation, where attorneys need to use standard court forms and can mostly fill in the blanks. My hope is that the coming features will open it up to all kinds of legal drafting.
David told me there’s still at least 3 months before Lawyaw goes fully public as a product. I’ll be keeping tabs on it until then.