Patent, litigation and corporate work for start-ups
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Innovation starts at home
Gesmer Updegrove, LLP is a Boston-based law firm that helps power the innovation that this city is know for. They specialize in handling patent, litigation and corporate work for Boston-area technology start-ups. Peter Moldave is a partner at Gesmer Updegrove whose goal is to accelerate innovation in the firm and to help the entire firm empower their clients to deliver the next generation of technologies in the most efficient manner possible.
Peter’s work focuses majorly on computer software licensing transactions, from business formation, angel and venture capital financing, mergers & acquisitions, employment agreements, and equity-based compensation, through software development, distribution and licensing arrangements. His clients include emerging software companies in the Internet and enterprise software area, investors in software companies, and individual executives, authors and consultants.
Every start-up is different, but that doesn’t mean all of their documents are
Peter has been working for some time now to automate Gesmer’s document creation and drafting activities. As much as start-up companies seem unique, especially to their founders, Peter told us that 90% of their clients use documents that are “pretty similar,” such as employment agreements, offer letters, investor documents, non-competes and NDAs. Yet it’s still critical as lawyers to get variables like names, addresses, and dates exactly right: “with even a single-page document it can take a lot of time.” Even if you are very careful, mistakes often get made if you are just Finding-and-Replacing your way through documents.
There are often idiosyncrasies with variable terms in documents that are easy for Word to miss with Find-and-Replace. Even just a slight variation in one instance of a name, perhaps deliberately made, can mean that Word catches only 3 out of 4 instances of that term. And, again, that’s just with a simple, single-page document; with larger documents that have many pages and conditional language, it only gets more difficult.
Been there, done that . . . well, tried to
This isn’t the first time that Peter and Gesmer have tried to solve their document automation problems at the firm. They initially went to a big company that offered a big solution . . . at a big price – somewhere around $5,000-$10,000 a year. As Peter describes it, that’s “an enormous amount of money for something complicated.” Peter then went to another well-known, similarly big company for another big solution, this one at least at a better price: “it was something pretty cheap.”
Unfortunately, “pretty cheap” doesn’t always (or maybe even usually) equate with “pretty easy to use.” As Peter told us, to use this “pretty cheap” system meant that you “have to literally read a binder that’s an inch thick to figure out how to use it. As an attorney, I can’t do that.” While these companies “had IT people to help us, even the simplest task in their system was too complicated. I couldn’t make changes myself.”
It was problems like these that moved Peter to try Woodpecker instead.
Sometimes innovation means solving big problems with simple, easy solutions
For Peter, the most important thing about Woodpecker is the control that it gives back to him; “with Woodpecker I can make the changes that I need to make.” Woodpecker works with Peter’s attorney methodology, not against it: “That’s the initial appeal of Woodpecker, you have things with lots of complexity that you can do yourself in 15, 10 or even 5 minutes without reading anything.” Plus, if Peter finds a problem with the document, he can fix it in just a few minutes.
But it’s not just about time, as Peter finds that “50% of the value” of Woodpecker is that it increases the accuracy of his work: “it prevents you from doing stupid things like changing a company name in 3 places and not the 4th.” Not to mention, Woodpecker makes sure that Peter finds things that can be missed when proofreading, such as extra spaces in a term that can’t be seen on a printed copy.
For these reasons, Woodpecker gives Peter “a lot more confidence that when I customize a form that I know I’ve done right – I still need to check, but I’m a lot more confident in the document.” Woodpecker also allows Peter to work much more quickly, which helps him stay responsive to clients and in turn keeps his clients very happy.
Finally, it’s important that Woodpecker doesn’t require other lawyers or Gesmer’s clients to have anything installed on their systems. Unlike that “pretty cheap” system with the “inch-thick binder” full of instructions, Woodpecker works within Word to create standard Word documents that anyone can use with or without Woodpecker (though we encourage everyone to sign up for a free account).
Woodpecker turned this attorney from a document automation skeptic into a document automation champion
Thanks to his work with us, Peter has become something of a champion of document automation – and of Woodpecker – at Gesmer. We look forward to working with not just Peter but all of Gesmer Updegrove to help them continue to power Boston’s technology innovation with their own innovation, through Woodpecker.
If you’d like to stop reading inch-thick instruction binders, calling the IT guys for help every time you want to make a change in your documents and instead focusing on the work that you do best, then perhaps it’s time for you to try Woodpecker.
Is your firm looking for a way to simplify your document management and preparation procedures without investing in expensive or complicated software? Download a free trial of Woodpecker Pro to see how our Microsoft Word app can simplify your workload today.