Software systems that enable the legal profession to manage and store documents electronically are becoming increasingly popular. Although many law firms still use paper documents, many in the profession now agree that technology and electronic systems are a great point of difference with competitors, making a firm more profitable as well as more cost-effective for clients. Here we look at the advantages of document management software as well as briefly looking at other electronic systems that law firms might find beneficial.
Benefits of Document Management Software Document management software in the context of a law firm can help to save lawyers’ time and ultimately clients’ money. It can also make the life of the firm easier by providing systems to help with the general running of a firm as well as the running of a case.
The main benefit of Legal Document Management to the running of a law firm is that it will help firms to move toward a paperless office. Electronic records mean that office space can be freed up. Electronic filing means documents can be filed in a straightforward location and stored with colour-coded identification so staff will be able to easily file, as well as locate, documents. Many such systems use a simple ‘drag and drop’ to make it quicker to file documents as well as enabling them to be easily found at a later date.
Using one document management system means that it is possible to integrate all the systems that staff will need access to. The nature of case management systems is also such that documents can be version-controlled with user date and time stamps, making inspections and audits less of a chore.
Using a document management system rather than storing documents on a law firm’s own system means that there is added security for the firm’s documents. It can also give both the lawyer and the client the opportunity to access files online. Integrating all aspects of a case, including client appointments, is great for a law firm. Profits can also be increased by using systems that provide guidance on chargeable activities.
Other Electronic Systems
Everyone who works in the legal profession can see the benefit of using online tools and materials. These are particularly important for keeping on top of the most recent case law and legislation. Books still have their place, but the internet and online applications have revolutionised a lot of the form-filling paperwork that was traditionally part of a lawyer’s work.
Many systems are available that will provide a lawyer with the forms and precedents that they need to conduct a case, taking away a huge amount of the paperwork that needed to be done previously by the lawyer and for which the client would be paying. It is also possible for lawyers to create their own precedents, which if they are linked to a case management system, can be auto-populated with details, thereby enabling mistakes to be avoided.
Many forms, precedents and other relevant documents are capable of being integrated into some sort of ‘workflow’ tool that can sit alongside a document management system. Such a ‘workflow’ can help a lawyer through all aspects of a case and provide them with everything they need along the way.
Within the legal profession, new technology is saving lawyers’ time and saving clients’ money, so it can only be a good thing for everyone concerned.