Julian Assange and Document Assembly

A little over a week ago, the New York Times and others reported that the DOJ had mistakenly revealed that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, had been secretly charged with crimes in federal court. The charges had been filed under seal, most likely to make it easier to apprehend him.

How did this come out? A copy and paste error by a U.S. Attorney, who mistakenly included a reference to the charges in an unrelated court filing.

This is a big potential problem for estate planning attorneys, too. And it’s not hard to do. In any given set of estate planning documents, our clients’ names show up in the documents anywhere from 15-50 times. Using traditional copy-paste methods, each one of those places is an opportunity to leave a prior client’s name in the document, breaching confidentiality obligations and creating an error in the document.

Our office uses custom-built document assembly software to eliminate this possibility. How it works is a bit complicated, but essentially we’ve built templates pre-coded with placeholders for (among other things) our client’s name. We can then fill in the name once, and have it go in all of the documents in the right place. Our system is advanced enough that for most families, we can create a complete, perfect set of documents from our meeting notes, without any copy-paste.

It’s truly a game-changer for us. And while we’ll never be privy to top-secret espionage charges, it makes sure we never let out any information we shouldn’t.

Thanks for reading. If you’re ready to get started with an estate plan, find out more about how it works here.