Using legal form software makes life easier for lawyers by allowing them to create repeatable, fillable documents.
This class of document automation tools focuses on a specific goal: creating reusable templates to make document drafting as easy as possible.
There are tons of tools out there that help lawyers make templates and forms.
But only a few make the cut as the best of the best. We put together this list to help you create your own shortlist. Some of these tools are standalone form creators, while others are features embedded in multipurpose legal tools.
Lawyaw is a document assembly tool built with lawyers in mind.
That means that, in addition to creating repeatable document templates, it automates the process of filling new ones out. It also lets you send forms from the platform to courts or clients for esignatures.
This tool comes with a library of forms for federal courts, all 50 states, and some local jurisdictions. That makes for a good jumping-off point before you make your own templates. You can then populate those forms with your client or case info within Lawyaw itself or using a Microsoft Word add-in.
Lawyaw also integrates with Clio, so it makes sense for people who use that tool to give this one a try.
This tool gets mostly positive reviews from customers. Some of them note that they like the integrations with the tools they use and the fact that it comes with a template library. Others say that it can be clunky when it comes to pulling in your data.
Basic Lawyaw accounts start at $70/month for each user, which gives you access to the court forms. Customizable templates and the MS Word add-in unlock with the $110/month plan.
Gavel is another document assembly tool that gets a lot of love in the legal space.
This tool lets you create custom workflows to generate just about any document you need at your law firm.
But what stands out the most with Gavel is that it lets you create client-facing forms. You can set up workflows for guided interviews and send them to clients or embed them on your site. The data they fill in goes right into a brand new document ready for you to review in Gavel.
That’s great news if you want to automate things like client intake.
Other pros include a Microsoft Word add-in, integrations with Zapier and Clio, and functionality for redactions. It also has an open API if you’re interested in creating your own integration.
The biggest con that people who use Gavel mention is that the process of automating every form your firm creates takes time.
The other drawback is that it doesn’t come with pre-loaded court forms.
Gavel’s basic plan comes in at $83/month, but that only gets you 10 workflows and a limited feature set. The next tier up costs $165/month and grants you access to more workflows plus a Zapier integration. Gavel offers a 7-day free trial to test out the tool.
Knackly provides similar advanced options to Gavel, like an open API, guided interviews, and forms built on conditional logic.
But users say that the functionality comes at a price—it's not easy to set it up and get to work.
Most lawyers using Knackly for legal documents will need to use the company's Jumpstart program to get personalized help from the experts.
This tool is best for lawyers creating multiple complex documents who are willing to put in the time (or hire others) to set things up at the start.
Knackly’s basic plan starts at $100/month for up to 4 users.
Jotform is the only tool on this list that isn’t focused on law firms first, but it’s also the only one with a free plan.
Having a free option is nice for someone just starting to play with automating the form creation process.
The drag-and-drop forms in this tool provide a fast track to custom form creation. You can also start from a PDF or Word document if you choose. Jotform has a library of existing forms, but the legal ones inside are no match for something like Smokeball or Lawyaw.
Jotform also integrates with e-signature providers and payment platforms.
This tool is best for an attorney who’s looking for simple or temporary solutions. It’s good for creating questionnaires. But other options are better if you want to automate court documents or other advanced legal forms.
Jotform's free plan limits users to 5 forms and 100 monthly submissions. You’ll be able to create 25 forms with 1,000 monthly submissions for $34/month.
NetDocuments is a document management tool for lawyers, which makes its use cases a little broader than the tools listed above.
What’s pertinent here is that NetDocuments has an integrated tool within its platform called PatternBuilder. This tool is a form creation and automation tool that pulls from the document management system inside NetDocuments.
PatternBuilder functions in a similar way to standalone legal form tools like Gavel or Knackly.
It lets you build repeatable templates and workflows. The difference is that all the forms you fill out end up inside your NetDocuments instance.
This tool is best for lawyers who are in the market for both a document management tool and a legal form creator.
NetDocuments does not publicize its pricing, and they are not clear if PatternBuilder is a part of their standard plan.
People who use NetDocuments have reported that it costs them between $50–$65/month for each user. NetDocuments will also refer you to an implementation specialist. This specialist will set you up with the tool for a one-time fee.
Smokeball is a full law practice management tool that has document automation functions built into it.
Smokeball comes with a pre-loaded legal form library with thousands of federal, state, and county forms. It also comes with a range of forms that are unique to certain practice areas. And you’re always free to create your own form templates within the tool.
Smokeball also includes client intake forms and e-signature integrations. The downside is that you won't find a client portal here.
This tool is best for an attorney who wants to solve their form creation, document management, and practice management needs. It is overkill for anyone who already has practice management software.
Document management on Smokeball starts at $89/month, but it's $179/month and up for document automation.
Clio is as close to an all-in-one solution as you'll get on this list because it includes so many functions for law firms.
One of those functions is document creation.
Clio lets you transform Word documents into templates and create your own library of court forms, too.
Clio’s expansive feature set is good for lawyers who need the full package and not just a tool for legal form creation. But it’s also a double-edged sword when it comes to the form creation and management side of things.
Some users say they wish the developers put more focus on making the current product more effective. For example, some complain about problems with multiple versions of documents, having to constantly upload or download docs, and the inability to duplicate documents from one matter to another.
Clio’s pricing starts at $39/user per month, but the templates and automation really kick in at the $69/month level.
What to Look for in Legal Form Software
Deciding on the right form creation tool for your law firm is sometimes easier said than done. There are plenty of good tools on the market, but the right one comes down to your specific needs.
Here are the basic features to look out for:
- Template creation and management
- Conditional logic and variables
- Support for esignatures
- The ability to output forms as a Word document or PDF
And there are some advanced or bonus features that are nice to have:
- Client-facing forms (for guided interviews or client portals)
- A Microsoft Word add-in
- A pre-made library of templates or court forms
- Integrations with other legal software
- An open API
Read reviews and talk to your peers before you make a decision on a tool. Another lawyer will be the best person to tell you if a given form creation tool is a good fit for you. And look out for demos or free trials so you can take a closer look at a tool before you commit.
Template creation should not be difficult.
Any tool with a bad user experience or that makes it difficult for you to get started shouldn’t be on your list. Software developers who know that their tools have a learning curve should offer you training and onboarding. The good news is that most of the tools on this list are easy to get started with.
A bonus feature to keep an eye out for is help with implementation.
Building a template isn’t a big deal. But building hundreds of templates is another story. Some of the tools on this list offer help from implementation specialists who will build forms for you while you focus on other areas of your practice.
Maximize Efficiency and Accuracy with Legal Forms
Time is money in the legal industry. You can't afford mistakes, either. Simplify your document creation process by using legal forms software to cover all your bases.
But upgrading your legal form creation process is just one of the ways you can streamline your firm for improved efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
Other legal tech tools like case management software, client intake software, and even new AI tools for lawyers will help speed up other areas of your firm. Each tool you add to your tech stack is another step down the path of modernizing your firm and making it more competitive.