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HotDocs 2005
Professional Edition

By Denise Yancey

As reviewed in the September/October 2005 issue.


Picture this: Your attorney has just asked you to pull up that 75-page lease he did a month ago for Molly’s Diner and adapt it to the new lease he is doing for Jack’s Tire Shop. By the way, the client will be there in half an hour, ready to sign. Impossible? Not if it’s done using HotDocs 2005.

HotDocs 2005 is the next level of document preparation software. You can use your office’s prepared documents or the HotDocs templates. After a little manipulation, they can become the basis for all types of forms. Instead of making global changes with your word processor, laboriously finding and replacing items, HotDocs asks specific questions, then assembles the document for one clean result. It can change tense, gender-specifics, formula results, spacing depending on the length of the answer and much more. In addition, many bugs from previous versions have been fixed.

HotDocs works with Microsoft Word 97 and Corel WordPerfect 8.0 or later, and can convert templates that already have been designed. It works with Portable Document Format files and can make PDF forms for loading onto Web sites or sending via e-mail. You now can copy tailored templates to a new location (perhaps on your server or Web site) to preserve the original in its clean, untouched form.

A great feature of HotDocs 2005 is its ability to transfer information from Microsoft Outlook to your HotDocs form, which can save even more time and keep information accurate. Other new features include identifying and editing your answers using the “Document Preview” tab, comparing different versions of a document and inserting symbol fonts for answers in text templates.

My largest concern is the tutorials could have been more user-friendly. For a first-timer, it isn’t clear how to start creating and converting documents. The program does come with a complete hard copy manual, but it would be more efficient to have an on-screen, interactive version.

I recommend this product for almost any law office, large or small, litigation or nonlitigation. The hours saved by using HotDocs will quickly pay for the cost of the program. Staff can spend time fine-tuning a complicated lease, will, contract or other complex document instead of starting from scratch each time.

Perhaps most importantly, the paralegal and attorney can trust that changes in gender, tense and updates to data consistently will be accomplished throughout the document when that feature is enabled. That alone lowers the stress level of the office.



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