A Complete Guide to Managing Legal Documents
Do you run a law firm? If so, then you probably know how difficult it is to manage paper and digital documents here and there. And not to mention that you sometimes get lost in finding the information you need, which wastes a lot of your time.
This is due to a lack of proper management of legal documents. Without it, you put your law firm at risk, negatively affecting its efficiency when handling multiple tasks at the same time. This is why it is important to understand what legal document management is.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about managing legal documents. This includes its basic definition, key features, and importance in law firms. So feel free to scroll through your buttons and read below to learn more.
What is Legal Document Management?
As the name suggests, legal document management is all about managing and storing legal documents. These may include letters, emails, reports, notices, licenses and contracts.
As you know, law firms manage a vast ocean of paper documents and digital documents. So they need an effective system to help them store, secure, manage and track their files and documents.
What are the features of legal document management?
An effective legal document management system includes features to track the status of each document from creation to storage and retrieval. Here are a few of them you might want to consider when establishing a compelling legal document management system:
Storage of legal documents is a place where you can store your documents in an efficient and organized way. It can be onsite or offsite, depending on the needs of a law firm. On-site document storage includes hard drives and filing cabinets for digital and paper documents within company property. And offsite document storage stores documents in a facility outside of your premises, hence the name, including physical storage facilities and cloud-based storage solutions.
Regardless, storage solutions must be protected against natural disasters (fire, flood, etc.) and cybersecurity issues (data breaches, threats, etc.).
The management of legal documents must comply with several government agencies and policies. It is essential to promote privacy and data protection, regardless of on-site or off-site storage solutions. Thus, failure to do so may result in legal consequences.
- Efficient document search and retrieval
Legal document management should allow you to search and retrieve documents hassle-free. With this, you will be more productive and efficient when working and processing multiple documents at the same time. And this can be achieved through a robust file organization or a logical file naming system.
This is a crucial feature of an effective legal document system. With this, you will be able to keep track of multiple versions of a specific document, as well as determine who was responsible for editing that particular document.
Integration is the process of using multiple software solutions under one roof. It’s like a bridge between different tools, allowing you to be more productive and faster. Make sure your document management software can fully integrate with the tools you often use in your daily operations.
A legal document management system that doesn’t support file sharing and collaboration is simply useless. You know how important it is for a file to be easily shared between multiple users and departments. So make sure your legal document management system uses tools that support efficient file sharing and collaboration.
Is document management different from document storage?
Many people often get confused with document management and document storage. But to clear up any confusion, is there a difference between the two? Well, there are. Document management is much more compared to document storage, and here’s why:
It is a place where you can store your files for later use. In short, it’s anything but a cupboard full of documents and files, no more, no less. Some examples of document storage are cloud drives, hard drives, and physical file organizers.
In addition, document storage is passive. And you cannot do anything while your files are stored under their system except save, retrieve, view and modify them.
If document storage is a passive way to manage your files, document management is the active counterpart. It uses a wide range of tools to create, manage and organize multiple documents at the touch of a button. In short, it can perform the tasks that document storage couldn’t.
Here’s what you can do with document management:
- View, edit and restore recently deleted documents
- Create multiple versions of a similar document
- Prevent others from making changes to your documents
Why is legal document management important?
Managing a wide range of files and documents is crucial for all lawyers, regardless of their specialization. This is why an effective legal document management system is important. Thanks to this, lawyers like you will be able to work productively, efficiently and securely.
Without a legal document management system in place, such unfortunate situations are inevitable:
- Information is lost: Without a document management system, say goodbye to some of your important documents. It may be impossible to find the file you need in a vast sea of documents. It would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
- Lack of space: If your storage space fills up easily, it’s probably because you don’t have a document management system. This would cost your business a lot of money in the long run since you have no choice but to buy more space.
- Productivity shutdowns: If you can search and retrieve the documents you need in seconds, you will only be wasting your time, energy and resources. One cannot be productive without a document management system in place. So before you start working, invest your time in developing and implementing one for your team.
Legal Document Management helps lawyers and law firms manage their records and documents effectively and efficiently. Without it, they will not be able to work as productively as possible. And they are bound to make mistakes that would put their careers at risk. Therefore, make sure you have a compelling legal document management system before you begin your legal journey.