Docassemble is a free and open-source platform for building interactive online applications. It’s used a lot in the legal community, but anyone can use it. It acts like an interactive guide or wizard to walk your staff or client through a questionnaire and can deliver advice and documents, or connect the results to a database. Like TurboTax, Docassemble can be used to create similar applications. It works on a phone, a desktop, or even by interactive email or SMS text messaging.

Docassemble’s benefit over other platforms is a wide range of features, such as complete customizability, and built-in integrations with digital signatures, email, SMS, WhatsApp, and web APIs. You can customize Docassemble with Python code, JavaScript, custom HTML, and CSS. Simple customizations (like changing colors and buttons) can use off-the-shelf themes. Docassemble’s author, who works in legal aid, wrote Docassemble after growing frustrated with the limitations of A2J Author and HotDocs.

Docassemble is powerful and delivers a familiar and easy-to-use experience to your end users. It has a steep but short learning curve for developers. Developers can work rapidly in the text-based environment used for authoring the applications, but the process is not drag-and-drop. Lemma Legal is happy to help you get internal staff up to speed on maintaining whatever we help you build.

No. Docassemble was written by Jonathan Pyle. 

However, Lemma Legal’s Founder Quinten Steenhuis is an internationally recognized expert on the platform and has contributed to the Docassemble documentation and code base. The Lemma Legal team teaches Docassemble to students and practitioners around the world. We love this platform and we know it inside and out.

Docassemble is used all over the world by a growing community that includes legal aid, small law firms, big law firms, and in-house at corporations that have nothing to do with the legal industry. 

A major project based on Docassemble includes UpSolve, a bankruptcy tool that entered the prestigious yCombinator startup accelerator.

Yes, but make sure you understand how! Docassemble itself is completely free. You will never pay a license fee to use it. That means you can have unlimited users (and developers) at the same cost. But Docassemble on its own won’t help you. You need someone to use it to automate your forms, just as is true with HotDocs, ContractXPress, A2J Author, and every other document automation tool.

One benefit of Docassemble is that it is completely customizable. That means if you decide you need a feature that you didn’t plan early on, you don’t have to start the project over.

Lemma Legal offers custom development services to transform your forms or content into an interactive application. We will also teach you how to make your own simple changes. Typical projects range between $5,000-$10,000. Our prices and development time is in line with the same service for HotDocs and the other platforms. Check out our pricing information.

Sometimes you want a user-friendly, step-by-step interview, and sometimes you just want something a little more advanced than cut and paste. Docassemble can be the “glue” between your case management system (like Salesforce, Legal Server, Clio, Practice Panther, Office 365, or Google Suite) and a library of forms. If your staff is repeatedly filling out the same forms over and over again, this kind of automation can pay off.

This usually requires writing one custom interview, coming up with a standard set of fields for the project, and then integrating all of your templates with it. These projects make the most sense when you have several forms or the forms are used multiple times a day. Adding another form doesn’t take long, but setting up the parent interview might.

There are a few drag-and-drop platforms aimed at automating documents out there. Some even use Docassemble as their base. 

Docassemble’s benefits show most clearly when you want:

    • a custom interface;
    • to sell the tool you create;
    • to scale without hitting an arbitrary service provider limit; 
    • are automating a complex or large number of forms
    • need to use any feature that the drag-and-drop tools don’t offer. 

We suggest sticking with drag-and-drop if you are just automating a few fields on a simple form. But, if your project grows in size, trying to navigate the dialog boxes and fields in the drag and drop platform might cost you more time than it saves in expertise.