Types of Document Templates and When to Use Each

To create a new document in Lawmatics, you will start by going to the Document page under the Assets tab, and you will then select Create New Document near the top right corner. You will then see options for the 3 different types of documents, shown below.

Depending on your document, one of these 3 options will be best suited for that particular document. Each type of document has its own pros and cons, so the best option for your different documents in Lawmatics will depend on the specifics of that particular document. 

Let's walk through each type of document you can create in Lawmatics.

Start Fresh

With the start fresh option, you will be using the Lawmatics built-in word processor to build your document right in Lawmatics. These are also referred to as Custom Docs.


  • Easy to create with access your custom fields, signature fields, conditional logic, etc right within the Lawmatics interface
  • Can be edited or updated in Lawmatics at any time
  • Option to preview make one-off edits when sending to a particular matter
  • Document text dynamically updates with fields merged in and/or conditional logic


  • There are limited formatting options available. If you are trying to create a highlight designed/stylized document, then start fresh will likely not be your best option.
  • Does not autosave while you are editing, make sure you click the save button periodically while editing to save your work!
  • Documents of this type can only be downloaded as PDF files, as opposed to .docx

Start fresh documents are typically used for fee agreements, contracts, etc, since these documents are typically more about the content provided than design/aesthetics. 

PDF Upload

With this option, you will begin by uploading a base PDF file, and you will then drag and drop any merge fields or signature fields over the base file. For that reason, this is a great option for court documents, authorizations, forms from external organizations, etc, since this option will ensure that the document looks exactly like the original base version provided.


  • Simple drag and drop interface
  • Allows you to preserve all formatting/design from the original file
  • Editor autosaves your progress as you work on building the document


  • There is not an option for conditional logic in your document
  • You need to make sure you have left space in the document for fields to be placed, since it will not dynamically update when fields are merged in
  • If you need to make any edits to the base PDF file, you need to start over with a whole new template
  • Does not allow one-off edits for particular recipients, all edits will apply to the overall template

Word Documents - DOCX

This option is perhaps the most complex to create, but it does offer solutions for most of the cons of the two types of documents listed above. DOCX documents are the most versatile since they can be used for fee agreements or other firm documents as well as external court documents/authorizations.


  • Preserves all formatting from your original document, such as page breaks, letterhead, tables, images, etc.
  • Can be downloaded back as a .docx file, which makes for easy editing and versatility
  • Allows for conditional logic


  • More complex to create since you will need to copy your provided field codes out of Lawmatics, and paste them into your word doc
  • The document cannot be edited within Lawmatics, any edits need to take place in Word
  • Does not allow for one-off edits to the template for particular recipients

When creating a new document in Lawmatics, it is important to take these specifications of each type of document into account before decided which type to use.

Remember that each type has e-signature capabilities, so your decision will likely come down to the other factors involved such as design elements, ease of edit, etc.


Can I change an existing document from one type to the other?

No, the type of a document cannot be changed after it has been created. You would need to recreate the document as the appropriate type.

Can I put a letterhead in a start fresh document?

Absolutely. Simply use the image icon on the right side of the document editor to add an image. Make sure that you have resized the image to the proper dimensions before adding it to the start fresh document, since it cannot be resized once placed in the document. Also keep in mind that since start fresh documents don't allow page breaks, you will likely just want to put the letterhead at the very beginning of the document, as opposed to trying to put something at the top of each page.

Can I use the PDF Upload option for a word document?

You can only use .pdf files with the PDF Upload option. However, you can easily export your word document to a .pdf file, and then upload that using our PDF Upload option.