Dennis Baranowski, Esq., and Lightning Docs – Revitalizing the ‘Static’ Loan Document Industry
This article appeared in the April 2023 Edition of Originate Report.
You may think that a loan documentation platform built by attorneys with an easy-to-use interface, backed by all major loan buyers, and featuring 100+ custom features may sound too good to be true.
You would be mistaken.
Say hello to Lightning Docs, a fully automated, cloud-based document solution offered by Geraci LLP. The platform was born out of a need to streamline the firm’s internal loan documentation process and allows users to draft attorney-grade loan documents with ease.
The platform works in three simple steps:
- Fill out a brief questionnaire so the platform can tailor documents to your terms.
- Lightning Docs inputs your terms into a law firm-grade document set and generates custom documents in seconds.
- Download your documents with the peace of mind that you are legally protected.
To better understand what brought Lightning Docs to fruition, and how this innovative platform fits into today’s lending landscape, Originate Report sat down with Geraci LLP’s Dennis Baranowski, Esq. to learn about his background and what sets Lightning Docs apart as the go-to document creation tool for lenders from coast to coast.
When asked about his transition from private practice to working with Geraci LLP, Baranowski said he ‘never could have imagined’ that his career would take him to the front lines of coding a complicated program with the help of a team of attorneys and programmers. With that said, however, he added that ‘every decision happens for a reason’, and he would not change anything.
“I had been practicing law since 1999 and found myself enjoying the representation of lenders and brokers,” he said. “I also had a proficiency in drafting contracts, so when Anthony [Geraci] asked me to join his firm in 2012, I decided to take that chance – even though I never envisioned working for someone again, Anthony is a kind of visionary, and what he was doing in law and real estate spoke to me. I haven’t looked back since.”
This sentiment is shared by Geraci LLP Partner and CEO Anthony Geraci, Esq., who refers to Baranowski as the ‘backbone’ of the firm.
“When I met him and brought him on board, he was in-house counsel to a local private money lender. Through his leadership and growth, I’ve seen him move from an associate into a key person and partner within Geraci,” Anthony said. “Behind the scenes, he, as the conductor, orchestrates a complex team of attorneys, processors, and programmers, leads his team through Lightning Docs and transactions and ensures both the quality and quantity of our lending products meets our clients’ needs.”
Meeting clients’ needs is at the core of the Lightning Docs pathos. By leveraging Geraci LLP’s position as a market leader in lender solutions – and a team of experts with decades of experience in the space – Baranowski said painstaking detail went into creating a responsive yet easy to use platform.
“We have worked diligently to make sure that Lightning Docs works seamlessly across state lines, and within the regulations that exist across the country,” he said. “Because of the team that we have in place, we have been able to scale this solution to a point of sustainability, and we can now focus on aspects like customization, functionality, and automation.”
Speaking to the prevalence of automation in today’s business landscape, Baranowski said the goal of Lightning Docs is to not ‘take away attorney jobs,’ but rather allow legal experts to focus their time on advising clients, navigating the often-muddy waters of compliance, and structuring transactions. By not focusing as much time on ‘pushing paper,’ he added, Lightning Docs customers can build their businesses quicker and more efficiently.
“The biggest challenge with moving to automation is understanding what and when you can automate,” he said. “This means figuring out how you can structure the program in a way that is repeatable and applicable to the greatest number of scenarios. We have been successful in that implementation with Lightning Docs, and what we see now is the ability to push more documents in the same amount of time with fewer mistakes.”
This focus on emerging trends like automation, Baranowski said, also speaks to holes that exist in the loan document platform marketplace. Among these pitfalls, he added, is the lack of a dynamic user experience.
“What Lightning Docs does and was an important factor to include in the platform, is allow the user to enter variables and conditions that can be implemented across different documents. These provisions allow users to migrate data more efficiently across pages, and in my opinion, is a huge factor in alleviating some of the headaches that come with processing complex forms,” he said.
“This mindset – from transforming static documents into ‘living’ forms that can evolve as a deal progresses – represents a monumental shift in how lenders and attorneys interact with data,” Baranowski said.
“I think Lightning Docs is already changing how people operate their businesses,” he said. “By allowing users to put best-in-class documents at their fingertips, they can be protected with ease and efficiency. It is important to have technology at your side, but without marrying it with the legal side, these implementations are fruitless.”
This cohesion – between Geraci LLP’s commitment to technological advancement and excellence in legal protection – is one of the ingredients that has led to Lightning Docs’ success, Baranowski said.
Nema Daghbandan, Esq., a Geraci LLP Partner and CEO of Lightning Docs, echoed this thought, and added that Baranowski’s impeccable attention to detail on both fronts has been a boon to the platform’s success.
“Baranowski is the quintessential jack-of-all-trades lawyer,” Nema said. “His vast experience and deep subject matter expertise in all things private lending make him essential to the firm. His versatility has him jump between writing legal logic for our Lightning Docs software in one moment to closing a $100MM office tower in the next.”
Looking forward, Baranowski said that although the initial rollout of Lightning Docs has been successful, there is always more work to be done.
“I think complacency is the most dangerous mindset to have,” Baranowski said. “I am proud of what we have built with Lightning Docs so far, but I want to keep making it better and offer our clients the best service possible.”
To learn more about how Lightning Docs can help your business automate and expedite the loan documentation process, visit lightningdocs.com.