Trend Alert: Smart Drafting
Published on Thu, June 09 byLegaltech Hub

What is it?

Beyond document automation or document assembly solutions, smart drafting tools work within Word or proprietary document drafting software and use machine learning and natural language processing to:

• “Read” and conceptually identify the clause that is being drafted in real time;
• Review documents within a database to identify the most similar clauses; and
• Surface those clauses to the drafter in a panel beside their document, allowing the drafter to select and insert the best language into the document.

Differentiation from Other Solutions

Traditional Document automation allows for the coding of template documents so that, rather than drafting a whole document, a user fills in a questionnaire that auto-populates the template and produces a draft document. Although it increases the efficiency of drafting and reduces risk (for example, by ensuring that old information is not left in a document from a former transaction that is being used as a precedent), there are some limitations to traditional document automation software:

• It requires that a template be coded before the automation works, which often requires a dedicated resource;
• The utility of the software is therefore limited to those documents or types of documents that have been pre-coded.

In other words, lawyers can’t decide to draft all of their documents using a document automation tool (except in the unlikely event that the firm has dedicated enough time and money to automate every type of document lawyers require). Instead, they need to determine whether there is an automated template for the type of document they are drafting, and then use it. From an adoption perspective, this makes it a harder sell – instead of encouraging lawyers to draft in one new way, the law firm professionals promoting document automation software need to instead sell lawyers on adopting two different ways of drafting: one for documents that have been pre-coded, and another for all other documents. 

There is a purported exception to the above limitation for document automation solutions that are intuitive enough to allow lawyers to automate documents “on the fly”. Some newer solutions eschew traditional questionnaires for a more visual, logic-based automation interface. In reality, having to automate a template for the first time will slow down a lawyer’s drafting no matter how intuitive the software.

Document assembly software (which is another type of document automation, and on Legaltech Hub is classified as document automation) allows for greater flexibility in the drafting processes. Similar to smart drafting tools, it provides the ability for users to pull clauses into a document in order to assemble a draft. 


Unlike smart drafting tools, document assembly solutions rely on pre-populated clause libraries – either the user’s own clause bank, or one provided by the vendor within the solution. Some document assembly solutions might use advanced technology to recommend certain clauses from a clause library for use within a document as the user is drafting, but for the most part suggestions in these tools are reliant on the way that clauses in the library are categorized and tagged. 


Similar to traditional document automation solutions, the usefulness of these tools is limited, in this case by the contents of the clause library. Firms with an extensive, curated clause library will get more benefit from these solutions than those that have not done the work of collecting clauses and creating a tagged clause library. Most firms will be uncomfortable using an external clause library, as lawyers generally prefer using house style and their own content.

Note that we classify Litera Create - Content (also known as Content Companion), which some users might argue has become a smart drafting solution with the integration of Kira technology, as a document assembly solution because it is largely still dependent on a clause library and can’t simply be pointed at any database of documents.

Smart drafting solutions provide more flexibility than either of the above solutions, and are often Word plug-ins, making them easier to sell from an adoption perspective. With smart drafting technology, there is no need for pre-coding in documents, nor is there a requirement to develop a clause library before use. 

Benefits of use

The following features make this type of technology attractive:

• The immediacy of content recommendations, so that the drafter sees them in real time without having to take additional steps;
• The fact that the technology can be directed at any preferred database (from an entire document management system to a select knowledge hub), so that recommendations are available no matter what document is being drafted; 
• The technology’s ability to rapidly parse documents into composite parts, rendering any prior work to break down documents and save clauses unnecessary; and
• The ability of the technology to identify the concept currently being drafted in order to make smart recommendations (e.g., to find the most similar clauses to the one currently in progress).

In order to provide these advanced features, smart drafting software leverages machine learning and sophisticated natural language processing. Traditional document automation or assembly tools, on the other hand, are not underpinned by these types of AI.

Smart drafting technology is able to be implemented relatively easily to boost efficiency and effectiveness, and can also support firms that haven’t had the resources to develop significant libraries of knowledge content, making it an attractive option even for firms without extensive KM teams. This technology will speed up the drafting process, and if pointed at high quality content will ensure an improved output, especially from junior lawyers

The Players

As this is a relatively new category, there are not many vendors in the space. Below is a review of the current competitors. Check out these products on Legaltech Hub or reach out to the Legaltech Hub team ( for additional support in selecting the right solution for your environment.

Casetext Compose
Practice Areas servedLitigation
Regions servedNorth America
HQUnited States
DescriptionCompose offers intelligent drafting for a variety of state and federal motions. Compose is litigation automation technology that takes care of the rote tasks in brief-writing. The solution provides contextual search during drafting to help automate the brief-writing process.
BackgroundCasetext was founded in 2013 by Jake Heller (former Ropes & Gray litigator) and Pablo Arredondo (former lawyer at Kirkland and Ellis and Quinn Emanuel). The Compose product was launched on 25 February 2020.
CustomersCustomers include Reed Smith, Quinn Emanuel, O’Melveny, DLAPiper, Greenberg Traurig, Littler Mendelson
Word plug-inNo
Ability to parse documentsUnnecessary, given functionality


Practice Areas servedAll – more focused on transactional, regulatory
Regions servedNorth America
DescriptionDraftWise helps transactional attorneys use their firm’s best language to draft and negotiate complex agreements. Draftwise uses natural language processing and machine learning to recommend clauses to lawyers as they draft, cutting down on the time required to draft a document and improving document quality.
BackgroundFounded January 1, 2020 in New York by Ozan Yalti (former Clifford Chance senior associate), Emre Ozen (former Google engineer and technical lead at Palantir) and James Ding (former product lead at Palantir). This is the first company for all founders. Total seed funding of $3 million. 
CustomersDraftwise was the first company to occupy this category in the transactional space, and consequently has some market traction. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Gunderson Dettmer are customers. Mischon de Reya is a seed investor, and Slaughter & May has included Draftwise in its 2022 Collaborate cohort.
Word plug-inYes
IntegrationsMicrosoft Word, iManage, netdocuments, Sharepoint, Opentext
Ability to parse documentsYes
DeploymentCloud or On-Prem


Practice Areas servedAll – more focused on transactional, regulatory
Regions servedEurope
DescriptionHenchman helps you draft faster by suggesting clauses from your existing database right when and where you need them the most. Using Henchman provides you with recommended clause suggestions within Microsoft Word straight from your selected database.
BackgroundFounded in August 2020 by Gilles Mattelin, Jorn Vanysacker, and Wouter Van Respaille. Mattelin and Vanysacker are experienced founders. Total funding of $5 million.
CustomersNeuwerk Rechtsanwälter, Cleber Advocaten
Word plug-inYes
IntegrationsMicrosoft Word, Sharepoint, OneDrive, Google Drive, iManage, netdocuments
Ability to parse documentsYes


Syntheia Smart Drafter
Practice Areas servedAll – more focused on transactional, regulatory
Regions servedGlobal
HQAustralia, United States
DescriptionSyntheia’s Smart Drafter is a Word Add-In that uses a BERT-based language model to suggest examples of provisions from your firm’s or organization’s past work. Smart Drafter helps improve the quality and speed of legal drafting by providing lawyers with access to relevant and timely guidance, for any legal document, from the first draft to the execution version.
BackgroundLaunched in 2018 by Horace Wu (former lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons, DLAPiper and Shearman & Sterling). This is Wu’s first legaltech company.
CustomersPart of Slaughter & May’s 2022 Collaborate cohort. Pilots under way with several AmLaw 100 firms and Australian firms. 
Word plug-inYes
IntegrationsMicrosoft Word, iManage, and other integrations are on the roadmap
Ability to parse documentsYes, including PDFs
DeploymentCloud or On-Prem


*Just acquired by Syntheia. Will continue to exist as a separate product for now, but will ultimately be integrated into Syntheia’s offering. 
Practice Areas servedAll – more focused on transactional, regulatory
Regions servedNorth America
HQUnited States
DescriptionMotionize's AI powered contract drafting tool built inside Microsoft Word helps lawyers draft agreements faster. Motionize suggests clauses as you draft, allowing you to insert the right language in real time. 
BackgroundMotionize was founded in January 2021 by Joshua Schoen, formerly of Ailanthus Corp and Evisort.  
Word plug-inYes
IntegrationsMicrosoft Word
Ability to parse documentsNot innate; partnership with Syntheia provides for this
Deployment Cloud



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