Recently, I wrote about announcements (here and here) from two cloud-based practice management applications, Rocket Matter and Clio, that they had added document assembly to their menus of features. When Rocket Matter made its announcement Jan. 25, co-founder Larry Port told me that it was then the only cloud-based practice management platform to integrate document assembly.
In fact, there is another cloud-based practice management platform that has offered document assembly for more than a year. The platform is HoudiniEsq and it takes a slightly different approach to document assembly than either Rocket Matter or Clio.
HoudiniEsq has its own plug-in for Word. (You’ll need Word 2007 or 2010 to use it.) When you install it, the plug-in adds a HoudiniEsq menu bar to Word. The menu bar lets you open documents from the application directly into Word and save them from Word directly into the application.
More to the point, the menu bar lets you easily create templates in Word that will work with your matter and contact data stored in HoudiniEsq. It adds commands to Word’s menu bar that lets you insert merge fields into any Word document and then save it as a template.
A nice feature here is that HoudiniEsq adds a dialog box within Word that lets you select the merge fields you want to use. As you create a template, you don’t have to type out the merge codes manually. Once you’re done, the template is saved into HoudiniEsq, ready to be used to assemble a document.
The final step is simply to click “Generate Document” within the Word menu and then select the template to use and the matter to use it in. The final document will be produced.
Alternatively, HoudiniEsq includes a feature called Live Doc that lets you alter the information in the merge fields as you are creating a document. For example, perhaps you want to insert a different phone number in a document than the one the merge field would find. Using Live Doc, you can easily do this before creating the final document.
Something else worth noting about HoudiniEsq is that it is free to solo attorneys. The free version is exclusively for a solo and includes only one seat and one log-on. And instead of accessing the application through the cloud, you install it locally on your own computer – although it still functions the same as the cloud version and can be accessed remotely.
For cloud-based access to HoudiniEsq., the cost is $64 per seat per month. By comparison, Rocket Matter charges $59.99 per month for the first user and then $49.99 per month for each of the next five users. Clio charges $49 per month per attorney and $25 a month for support staff.