Developing a document assembly program carries an upfront investment in both software and attorney time. Seth Rowland, attorney-consultant at Basha Systems, says document assembly software alone can cost “as little as $300 per user. But the development time is where the real cost is. The system works best if those writing the templates and the rules are deeply involved in the development process.”

However, that cost can be quickly recouped. Michel Gahard, a Microsoft general manager, estimates the company has realized an annual savings of $3 million in increased productivity from document assembly.

Cisco reached a milestone in April, with its 25 millionth electronic transaction, according to Steve Harmon, senior director of legal services. In a 2005 General Counsel Roundtable report, Cisco estimated it would save $350,000 annually in processing time for nondisclosure agreements alone by reducing average cycle time from seven days to 19 minutes. Cisco has not published more recent figures.