Clio Grow’s document template editor allows you to create reusable templates for important documents that need to be generated and/or signed during the intake process.
By using document templates, you will have the ability to automate the process of drafting a document or even filling out a standard legal form. You can then send these documents out via email or open them up on a computer or tablet in your office and have them signed electronically.
There really is no limit to the kinds of templates you can create. Some common examples include fee agreements, engagement letters, retainer agreements, legal services agreements, HIPAA authorization/medical record release forms, etc. Basically any document that you use repeatedly in your intake process or operations can be created into a template to make it easier to reuse in the future.
This guide will cover the different types of document templates you can create and walk you through the process of creating a template from start to finish.
Types of Document Templates
There are two different types of templates that you can create within Clio Grow. Each one works a bit differently and has its own benefits and drawbacks. It’s important to understand the difference between them to decide which style of template will work best for a specific situation.
Text Editor Templates
As the name implies, a Text Editor Template gives you the ability to edit the text of your document within Clio Grow using an HTML text editor.
You can copy/paste text into the text editor from another source, such as a Word Document, and you will have the ability to make changes to the text or formatting of the document any time without having to leave Clio Grow.
Text Editor Templates are most commonly used for documents which may need to be modified depending on the client or the circumstances.
For example, if you occasionally need to customize the language or add or remove a provision from your fee agreement, a Text Editor Template would be the perfect solution.
With the HTML text editor, you can make unlimited modifications to a particular client’s document during the drafting process without affecting the underlying template, which will remain unchanged.
An example Text Editor Template is shown below.
An example of a Text Editor Template in the HTML editor.
A PDF Template is pretty much just what it sounds like - a PDF that you can upload into Clio Grow, save as a template, and use in the future.
Unlike a Text Editor Template, you cannot make any changes to the underlying template itself once it has been uploaded. Instead, you can use the HelloSign editor to overlay blank fields on top of the document to be filled out with client or matter information.
PDF Templates are most commonly used for standardized legal forms that clients may need to fill out and sign, such as a HIPAA authorization or government filing.
You can still use automation to automatically fill out the blank fields in a PDF Template, but you can’t customize the underlying content of the template, which makes them a bit less flexible.
The only way to edit the PDF is to create a new version outside of Clio Grow and upload it again as a new template.
An example of a PDF Template in the HelloSign editor.
When to Use Text Editor Templates vs. PDF Templates
As a general rule of thumb, Text Editor Templates are best for fee agreements and any kind of document which may need to be modified in certain instances.
PDF Templates are best for standardized legal forms or documents which do not need any modifications but have fill-in-the-blank fields that will need to be completed.
Before getting into the nuts and bolts of how to build a document template, it’s important to have a baseline understanding of how the templates are configured for automation and e-signing.
Both Text Editor and PDF Templates have a "document settings" area where you will input the automation and signer settings for a particular template.
In other words, you will specify how many contacts will have their information automated into the document, and how many people are required to sign a document, including both contacts and users in your Clio Grow account.
The automation settings are where you decide how many people and/or companies’ information will be inserted into a document.
There are two dropdown fields in the automation settings area which you must configure for each template:
- Number of People: this is the number of people contacts whose information will be automatically inserted into the template whenever it is used to draft a document. The default is one person.
- Number of Companies: this is the number of company contacts whose information will be automatically inserted into the template whenever it is used to draft a document. The default is zero companies.
Within the actual template, the person fields will be labeled with a letter "P" and the company fields will be labeled with a letter "C". Each person/company that is in the template will also be assigned a number so you can identify which fields correspond to which contact.
For example, any field labeled P1 will be assigned to Person 1, any field labeled P2 will be assigned to Person 2, any field labeled C1 will be assigned to Company 1, and so on.
Whenever you draft a document, the system will simply ask you which contacts from your database correspond to P1, P2, and C1, and their information will be pulled into the document automation fields accordingly.
You will also need to decide how many people must sign a template, both inside and outside of the law firm. The "contact signers" are typically your clients, and the "user signers" are members of the law firm who have a login to Clio Grow.
You have two fields to configure in the signer settings area for each template:
- Number of Contact Signers: this is the number of contacts who will need to e-sign the document. The default is one person.
- Number of User Signers: this is the number of users who will need to e-sign the document. User signers will always sign after all the contacts have signed. The default setting is zero users.
NOTE: You can also make “non-signable” Text Editor Templates for documents that don’t require an e-signature. You can do this by specifying “No” where it asks “Is the document signable?” More information can be found at the bottom of this article, or in our guide about Drafting and Preparing Documents for Signature.
Contact Signers vs. User Signers
Any contact in your Clio Grow contact database can sign a document, as long as they have a valid email address (this is required by HelloSign in order to meet the signer verification requirements under e-signature laws).
Any member of your law firm can also sign a document, as long as they are a user and have their own login to Clio Grow. User signers will always be prompted to sign after all contacts have signed. They will receive an automatic email notification letting them know it is their turn to sign.
Keep in mind that in some instances, you may not need to have any user signers. The user who prepares the document still has the ability to e-sign before sending the document out to a client, even if the document settings specify zero user signers.
User signers are specifically useful in situations where multiple members of the law firm need to sign a document, or when it is critical that the law firm members sign after all clients have signed.
If it’s okay to have the law firm member sign before the client, you can specify zero user signers and just add a signature during the document preparation process.
Here are a couple of hypothetical use-cases to give you a better understanding of how the settings should be configured to accommodate different situations.
If you have a single client who is an individual and the attorney needs to sign after the client…
- 1 person
- 0 companies
- 1 contact signer
- 1 user signer
If you have a company client and someone needs to sign on behalf of the company, in addition to the attorney signing after the client…
- 1 person
- 1 company
- 1 contact signer
- 1 user signer
If you have a married couple as your client and the attorney can sign before the clients…
- 2 people
- 0 companies
- 2 contact signers
- 0 user signers
As you can tell, configuring the document settings is a very important step because it will determine how this document functions whenever it is used in Clio Grow. You should be sure to thoroughly understand how the document settings work before creating a template.
Creating A Text Editor Template
The entire process of creating a Text Editor Template can be handled within Clio Grow. Each of the basic steps is outlined below.
First you will input a name for the template at the top of the editor page. Use a name that is unique and easy to identify, since you will need to reference the template by name when preparing it for a client in the future.
Logo and Letterhead
The logo and letterhead are optional. If you check the box, Clio Grow will automatically add your law firm letterhead to the top of the document whenever this template is used.
Keep in mind that you won’t actually see the letterhead anywhere in the text editor. But the letterhead will get added at the top of the document when it is finalized into a PDF for downloading or e-signing.
Next, you will want to adjust the document settings depending on how many people, companies, contact signers, and user signers will be needed for this particular document. Click the "Edit Settings" link in order to change the default settings.
For more information about how the settings work, see the information above in the section called “Understanding the Document Settings."
Creating the Document Body
Most of the time, you will want to just copy/paste the text of your document into the text editor, though you can always type it instead if necessary.
Keep in mind that when you paste in the text from Microsoft Word or another offline source, you are converting it into HTML code (i.e. the markup language used to display text on the web).
Unfortunately, when converting text from Word into HTML, the formatting will not always translate perfectly. You may need to use the text editor formatting tools to modify the appearance of the document in order to make it look right.
Adding Document Automation Fields
Automation fields help streamline the process of drafting documents by automatically inserting data from your contacts and matters. It's a great way to save time and also prevent errors when generating common documents, such as fee agreements and retainers.
There are several different kinds of automation fields that you can add to a Text Editor Template. They are color-coded throughout the template for easy visual recognition, as explained below:
- Person Fields: includes all default contact fields and contact custom fields. These fields will be highlighted in yellow within the document template editor.
- Matter Fields: includes all default matter fields and matter custom fields. These fields will be highlighted in orange within the document template editor.
- Company Fields: includes all default contact fields and contact custom fields. These fields will also be highlighted in yellow within the document template editor.
- HelloSign Fields: you can add signature blocks, fillable text boxes, checkboxes, initials fields, or date fields into your template and they will automatically be converted into e-signable fields in HelloSign. These fields will be highlighted in blue within the document template editor.
- Additional Fields: other relevant information such as the current day’s date in various formats, the name of the user drafting the document, or the name of the law firm. These fields will be highlighted in green within the document template editor.
To add an automation field in your template, simply click on one of the dropdown menus (e.g. the ones labeled "Person Fields" or "Matter Fields") and then select the field you want to insert. A colored placeholder will be inserted wherever the cursor is located in the text editor.
In the example screenshot below, it shows how you could insert a "First Name" field for P1.
You can place the automation fields anywhere within the body of the document template, and the corresponding information will automatically be pulled in from the assigned matter or contact when you draft a document with this template.
When creating a PDF Template, you must first have a finalized PDF file which you will upload to use as the template.
You can create this file in Microsoft Word, Adobe, or any other program outside Clio Grow, and then just be sure to save your finished product as a PDF file before uploading it.
First, you will input a name for the template at the top of the document settings page. Use a name that is unique and easy to identify, since you will need to reference the template by name when preparing it for a client in the future.
Upload PDF File
Next, click the button to upload the PDF file you wish to use as a template from your computer. Keep in mind that you will not be able to modify this PDF later unless you start the entire template creation process over, so make sure it looks right before you upload.
Next, you will want to adjust the document settings depending on how many people, companies, contact signers, and user signers will be needed for this particular document.
See the information above in the section “Understanding the Document Settings” for more information about how this should be configured.
Select Automation Fields to Use
There are several different kinds of automation fields that you can add to a PDF Template. Keep in mind that you must select which automation fields will go into the document before adding any of these fields to the template. Also, the fields you choose cannot be changed later, so it's important to select them correctly the first time around.
To make an automation field available in the template, simply check the box next to the field name from the list of all your fields.
Here are the types of fields that can be added to a PDF Template.
- Person Fields: includes all default person fields
- Company Fields: includes all default company fields
- Contact Custom Fields: includes all contact custom fields for both people and companies
- Matter Fields: includes all default matter fields
- Matter Custom Fields: includes all matter custom fields
- Other Fields: other relevant information such as the current day’s date in various formats, the name of the user drafting the document, or the name of the law firm.
After configuring your template settings, uploading your file, and choosing fields, the next step is to add the automation and e-signature fields to the template.
Keep in mind that you cannot go back and adjust the PDF Template settings or replace the PDF file later. The only way to make changes is to completely start the process over, so make sure to double check that you have everything configured correctly before proceeding.
When you have finished configuring your settings, click the "Create Template" button to open up the PDF in the HelloSign template editor, which is included with our HelloSign integration. This editor is not part of Clio Grow, which means we do not have control over its functionality, but the integration is fully included with your Clio Grow subscription costs.
Once the PDF has opened into the HelloSign editor, you can add five different types of fields to the template as shown below.
- Signature: a box where the contacts and/or users will be able to add a digital signature to the document. The signature can be drawn in with a mouse or touchscreen device, typed in with a keypad, uploaded from a PNG or JPG image, or sent in via email. All these methods of e-signing are considered valid, but drawing or typing are the easiest ways to sign.
- Initials: a box where any signer can input his/her initials.
- Textbox: a box where text can be inserted into the document. It can be static text saved into the template, text that is automatically filled out via an automation field, or text that a contact or user types in during the signing process.
- Checkbox: a box that someone can check when signing to indicate acceptance or agreement with something, or to choose from a list of options.
- Sign Date: a box where the current day’s date will automatically be inserted whenever any particular signer executes the document.
All five types of fields can be used as e-signature fields, meaning that they can be filled out by a signer during the electronic signing process.
To add any of these fields to the document, you can simply click the field type, and then click on the document wherever you'd like to add it. You can also drag and drop to reposition the field or resize it.
An example of how a "Signature" field looks in the HelloSign editor.
Keep in mind that only the “textbox” field type can be used as an automation field. More info on how to configure this can be found below.
Making Textbox Fields into Automation Fields
An automation field is one that is populated automatically with data from your Clio Grow account. You can make any textbox into an automation field by adjusting the options in the pop up dialogue for that field.
A basic explanation of how the field options work is below:
To make a textbox into an Automation Field…
Sometimes you will want to automatically populate data into the text box. Here's how to set that up:
1) Select “Sender(when sending)” for the “Assigned to” option - this means that Clio Grow will fill out the field automatically with the corresponding data
2) Next select which data should go into that textbox from the dropdown labeled “What text goes here?” - it will list all of the fields you checked during the previous step in a dropdown menu (in this case, the selected field is "(p1) First Name", meaning the person 1's first name will automatically be inserted into this textbox when the document is drafted)
To input static text into the textbox which cannot be updated later...
Sometimes you might just want to insert some static text into the template which does not need to be updated based on the contact or matter. Here's how to set that up:
1) Select “Me (now)” for the “Who fills this out?” option - this means you will fill out a value for the text box and save it into the template.
2) Then simply type in the text you want in that field.
To have a signer fill out the textbox out when e-signing the document...
Sometimes you need the signer (either a contact or a user) to input a value for the field manually when it is their turn to sign the document. Here's how to set that up:
1) Select “Signer X” for the “Who fills this out?” option - this means that they will be able to type in a value for the field when it's their turn to sign
In some situations, you may want to draft a document that does not need to be electronically signed.
For example, if you wanted to mail out a paper letter to someone, and you still wanted to use automation for the drafting process, you could do this by creating a non-signable document template.
Note that it is not currently possible to create PDF Templates that do not require an e-signature, as these templates are actually created via the HelloSign editor. It is only possible by using Text Editor Templates at this time.
In order to make a non-signable template, you simply go to the document settings within the template editor and change the option that asks “Is this document signable?” to say “No”.
Once a document is drafted from a non-signable template, the final copy can be downloaded as a PDF and printed out, or sent to someone as an email attachment.