The Traditional Closing Binder is Dying
Nov 21, 2019
Many transactional attorneys are discovering their work is often less about legal expertise and more about managing details.
The increasing demands of transactional closings have a major effect on law firms, causing a strain on time and a reduction in profits. These challenges come from a variety of places.
Effective transaction management requires attorneys to have expertise in each of the following:
- Securing required approvals, filings, and fund transfers
- Understanding market norms and trends in the transactional space
- Coordinating roles and responsibilities of the various parties
- Helping drive constituents to closing
- Delivering required documentation
All of these expectations contribute to lengthy time commitments in order to close a transaction. In order to press through to closing with all the required filings, funding and documentation often requires months.
Adding to the complexity, the typical deal involves an array of parties. This requires moving massive piles of documentation around to multiple entities with the goal of maintaining consistency in communication.
On top of all this complexity is an increased pressure to move quickly. Today’s pace of business is faster than ever. Attorneys feel the time pressure to move closings forward, therefore spending long hours poring over documentation.
How the traditional closing process works
With all of the complexity and pressure, transactional attorneys spend a lot of time focusing on the project management aspect of the closing.
The process typically involves three aspects:
Digital Closing Checklist
This is your structured list of documents and tasks needed to close a deal. This is the most important part of the deal because it provides your step-by-step goal to move to completion.
Typically the closing checklist is document-driven, with columns for responsible parties with a status for each item. This is often handled as a series of Word or Excel documents compiled and emailed as updates are completed. This document is referred to in status update calls and acts as the organizing document.
The closing room is where all the documents from the closing checklist come together. These documents are often inserted into folders with a variety of tabs, sticky notes, and labels.
An empty folder indicates a step that still needs to be filled, while sticky notes are typically used to show where signatures are needed. The closing room is a process of deliberately assembling the final closing documents.
The final step in the closing process is to complete the closing binder. This is where you package together the final collection of closing documents. The finish line is close, but these last few steps can often take the most time to complete.
The closing binder is typically reviewed, arranged, and tabbed before being printed in a final binder. The binder is then settled as a bound volume or DVD for distribution to all relevant parties.
The problem with the traditional process
The traditional closing process provides no clear-cut way for collaboration. All communication funnels around disparate parties without a singular place to refer to. While the goal is to review and collaborate, you have no easy way to search and find specific locations in the closing documents.
The result is a major waste of time on repetitive and manual tasks, emails, and status update meetings. This process creates high costs in labor and paper, not to mention unbillable attorney hours.
The New Closing Process
Fortunately, many law firms are finding a simpler and faster way to complete closings. The key to moving past the slow traditional process is taking the closing digital. Each of the three components to closing can be greatly improved with a digital workflow.
Closing checklist: To cut down on redundant meetings and With the closing checklist stored digitally in a single source of truth, such as the NetDocuments document management service, all relevant parties can see the status of tasks and documents at any time. This also cuts down on redundant meetings and status updates.
Closing room: Just like a physical closing room, a digital repository, such as a CollabSpace, can collect the entirety of closing documents from all parties. The advantage of going digital is to easily organize the files, documents, and categories. With digital storage, the files are more accessible to anyone with the proper access.
Digital storage is also searchable so that you can drill down to the exact document you’re looking for. Instead of endless emailing, all relevant parties can access the documents they need.
Closing Binder: The natural outflow of a digital closing room is to automatically generate the closing binder. Using a tool such as SetBuilder can help manage final documents in real-time and provide a ready-to-view binder for anyone, anywhere.
The closing binder will have an index to click and find what you are looking for. The closing binder doesn’t need to be printed until all parties have signed off on the closing.
Moving the closing process digital
Removing the need for constant back-and-forth emails, document version controls, and update meetings can significantly impact the time attorneys and fee earners spend on non-billable tasks. This time commitment is why the traditional “closing room” is dying and moving to a faster digital environment.
NetDocuments provides a seamless opportunity for transactional law firms to move a transaction from intake to closed. To find out how, request a demo and learn how your firm can take its first steps into the digital closing process.