Document Assembly for the Busy Non-Nerdy Lawyer: Pathagoras

This articles is targeted to other lawyers, particularly family law, but it also give insights to potential clients, or even judges, of how our office produces so much so quickly.

I am writing about the “document assembly” application Pathagoras. It is available as a free, full featured, 90 day trial download:

Caveat: the “master list” form that I describe as a work in progress is just that. I don’t yet trust it to use as the portal for all of my forms. Safest is to use the form, save the data, and slowly build, using that as a source for the other forms, or using it to start the master form. . I will keep working with the hope that one “master list” will contain data for use in every one of the client’s family case documents. Stay tuned. jbh

  1. I own no share in the company, and this is not a commercial, but I have a stake in spreading Pathagoras.
  2. WV lawyers, and the family law bar especially, need this product. It needs dozens, or hundreds, of WV family lawyers to create and share forms and templates.
  3. It needs lawyers to be able to fly through the paperwork, to crank out petitions, motions, emergency pleadings, parenting plans, property settlement agreements, cover letters, and temporary and permanent, and temporary orders.
  4. Instead of hiding our practice secrets, we need to share them. We need to double, or quadruple, the number of WV litigants we can help. Over 70% of family court litigants are unrepresented, and “do it yourself”.
  5. Remember the old phrase, “A man who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client.”!
  6. We need to make it inconceivable that a party would proceed without a lawyer unless they had no resources even to consult one.
  7. And we need to expose the fraud of “Do it yourself.”! There are lawyers who need work and people who need them!

So, here is my summary of Pathagoras, and a trick that just became clear to me:

  1. Pathagoras is a “plug-in” to Word. Once installed, it is available on the main ribbon.
  2. The better you understand Word, the better you will do, but you do NOT have to be a programmer!
  3. My great recent revelation is that virtually all family law legal documents have the same, or very similar, “variable” information; names, addresses, birth dates, etc.
  4. What I should have done the very first time I set it up, and I share this with you for free, is take the ten most common documents that you use in a practice area, whether it is family, personal injury, or real estate, and pull out the “variable” parts and pick a standard  ” master form” for each one. E.g. [ Client Full Name] or [Child number one’s date of birth],  then label them and put them into the  master list
  5. Then, before you “Pathagorize” even your first document (Ok, do one simple one just to confirm that it works!), create this master list of terms. You will never regret it. It will save you hours.
  6. Save this document to Dropbox, so everyone in your staff can access it. And, use these “variable” in all of your form documents. Pathagoras cannot find them if they are not standardized.
  7. Don’t hesitate to “tinker”, fixing inconsistencies, adding overlooked variables, etc.
  8. And, to the extent you can, use this template as a “fill in the blank” intake form the first time you meet your client. If you are a slow typist, have your receptionist spend 10 minutes with the client. It will save her ,and you, hours.
  9. When you hit “alt d”, your master list becomes a new client questionnaire.
  10. As a test, fill in your master list questionaire with the data from a hypothetical client. I use “Sallie Mae Smith” vs. “Billie Bob Smith”, with children Callie, Tallie, Bubby, etc.
  11. Never overwrite your master list file. Once you learn what you are doing, you can convert it to a template, but in the meantime, just never save over the form.
  12. If divorce client Sallie is ready to file, do this:
  13. Find your “DivPetMotWChildren” form.
  14. Open it, and immediately save it as “SmithSallieMaePetMot.04.25.2017”;
  15. Hit “alt d”.
  16. A new questionnaire will appear. You could fill it in, but you already have Sallie’s “master file”!
  17. Hit “scan”, and it will look for the labels within the brackets: [        ].
  18. Pathagoras will ask you if you want to use a stored data file. Say “Yes!”.
  19. Just go to the dropdown button, and there is Sallie Mae’s master data file. You or your staff typed it in the very first time you met her.
  20. Select it, and Sallie’s divorce petition and motion for temporary relief will fill in automatically!
  21. Select the optional paragraphs to keep and omit. Optional paragraphs are stored within “squiggly brackets”, { ______ }. Just select the ones appropriate to Sallie, the divorce grounds, whether she wants alimony, etc.
  22. Answer any remaining questions, and process the form by clicking “next”.
  23. Your Petition and temporary motion, CCIS cover sheet, notice of hearing, and other documents will be created, subject to minor clean-up by your clerical staff.
  24. Later, you can do the same with your client’s proposed parenting plan or property settlement agreement, the notices of hearings, the emergency motions, temporary and final orders, everything!
  25. Think how many time your staff types “Sallie Mae Smith” and “Billie Ray Smith”; dozens! They, and all the variable information, are already there!
  26. It is that simple.
  27. I caution you, my only criticism of Ray, which is really an admitted failure of my own, is that the program is so powerful that there are too many ways to do each function. I am smart, but I am not programmer.
  28. For your day to day, bread and butter, document assembly, you don’t have to learn that other stuff, but it is nice to know it’s there, and as you get better, you will get braver.
  29. But, for now, just show me how to do it, and don’t confuse me with alternate methods.
  30. For guidance, I suggest you start with “the basics”:
  31. Pathagorize your first form, and create a document. You should then be hooked!
  32. Then, I urge you to do Roy’s  “7 Day Plan”, but do it in two hours one afternoon, or you’ll never get back to it:
  33. I am embarrassed to admit that I have trouble with online, detailed, manuals, such as Roy’s 600 page comprehensive manual. Rather than read it through, I suggest liberal use of the table of contents and search engine. .
  34. Then call me, or write, and I will send our dozen best forms. And you will be on your way, with a jump start I never had.
  35. If you buy the product, Roy will give you a 40 minute online and telephone tutorial.
  36. It is that simple. If you are as smart as I think you are, you will find dozens of uses for Pathagoras and will have an office policy that all documents you produce need to be Pathagorized. And you and I will be in a select group, sharing, collaborating, and helping one another and our clients. It will be a revolution in the practice of law.

One more thing about Pathagoras. It is simpler and cheaper than the alternatives.


My Draft Master List of Variable Titls

E-mail me for the Word Version:

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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