Law firms invest time and money in case management software, often considering document management after the fact. Case management keeps a busy law firm on track by organizing data and moving cases along. Document management is one very significant component of case management. Creating, saving, and accessing the appropriate case-related items (such as pleadings, medical records, and contacts) will make or break your ability to get the best result for your client in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
Document Management vs. Case Management
Case management software allows you to track information about a case. This can include staffing, settlement offers, opposing counsel contact information, tasks to perform, and court information, among a litany of other details. Case management tracks case information.
Document management software tracks document information. Good document management software allows you to easily search for and access any and all documents your law firm has ever created. If an attorney needs to write a Daubert motion, the document management system should allow that attorney to find all Daubert motions filed against a specific expert. Software designed to manage documents is inherently different from software designed to track case information. Document management software tracks document-specific information.
While a few case management solutions contain their own document management software, most do not. If a case management system does not include its own document management system, one will need to be purchased and integrated.
Document Management Equals Knowledge Management
Law firms lose a lot of information over time, and especially in a mid-sized to large law firm, documents can disappear. If documents are kept on individual computer hard drives, and a computer crashes or its user leaves the firm, this “knowledge” may be lost. A document management system allows your law firm to retain documents, notes, emails, and other items associated with its cases.
Document management allows any attorney or staff member to reap the benefits of years’ worth of law firm institutional knowledge. For example, your firm’s newly licensed attorney can search for motions for summary judgment in order to learn quickly how to draft such a motion. You have reduced the learning curve for that new attorney, saving the firm time and money.
Document Management Equals Firm-Wide Cohesiveness
Document management fosters cohesiveness throughout a law firm. Most document management systems allow for the creation of form documents that merge information from an adjoining case management system. Creating form documents increases productivity, as previously discussed in another blog post entitled “Automation 101: Increasing Law Firm Efficiency.”
Many document management systems force naming conventions for documents saved into the system. All of your law firm’s documents have consistent names, and all identifying information must be entered before a document can be saved. For more information on utilizing naming conventions, see “Simple Law Firm Procedures to Increase Workflow: Naming Conventions.”
Law Firm Document Management Software Products:
Below I list five of the many products currently available.
Worldox: This popular document management system hit the market in 1988. It integrates with most top case management software, includes e-mail integration, and offers a cloud-based option. This product is cost-effective and scalable.
Autonomy Worksite (iManage): Worksite is one of the most popular document management systems in the legal industry. It is very robust, integrates with a variety of case management systems, and offers a solution for mobile devices.
OpenText eDocs: OpenText allows law firms to customize their own solution from a list of options, creating a product that meets individualized needs and price points.
NetDocuments: This product is very cost effective for small to medium-sized law firms. Its design is sleek and modern, offering mobile compatibility and add-ons to boost productivity.
ProLaw: ProLaw’s document management software is flexible and customizable, allowing firms to purchase select modules instead of the full package. Its mobile option does not include iPhone access.
Saving Law Firms One Document At A Time
There are dozens of document management systems available, and sifting through them to find the one that is right for your firm can be frustrating and overwhelming. Call me at Stacey E. Burke, P.C., and I can help find the system to meet your law firm’s needs.