As legal firms look to reduce overhead costs, the first cuts usually end up being real estate and personnel. With less office space for paper records and fewer employees on hand to manage day-to-day workflows, this can quickly turn document storage into a logistical nightmare.
This is where the right legal document software can be a lifesaver.
Adopting customizable software not only brings order and ease back into daily operations, but better protects your clients’ confidentiality and ensures compliance with government regulations.
With many providers and packages to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Read on for seven must-have features to look for in your legal document management software.
The best legal software makes security and confidentiality a top priority. Your provider should be able to help you transition to an all-digital system that offers the highest level of protection and makes files easier to manage.
Digitizing and storing records with legal document software requires less physical space, freeing up real estate and reducing overhead costs while also providing better organization, allowing for more targeted searching, purging of duplicate files and clear linking of associated documents. Digitizing your files can also ease your firm’s adaptation to e-filing, if that is available in your jurisdiction.
As important as secure document storage is, it is just as important to maintain secure document destruction. Your partner in information management should offer a shred or digital disposal program that allows you to set a regular destruction schedule.
Scheduled or consistent document destruction reduces confusion, clutter, and helps keep your records management organized. It’s vital that your provider is NAID AAA certified, meaning it will maintain compliance in the destruction of digital and paper documents.
Whether you’re working with digital records, paper records or both, your legal document software should facilitate easy access to what you need, when you need it.
Retrieval of records should be user-friendly and easily searchable. Look for a package that includes OCR (Optical Character Recognition) conversion. This allows pdf text to be scanned and indexed, even keeping multiple versions of the same document that can then be searched.
As you design a retention schedule that remains compliant with industry regulations, a good partner will help you integrate it into your software. This will automate and streamline the retention and destruction process, allowing you to effortlessly determine which documents you still need to keep and for how long.
If your law firm still relies on paper documentation and records, you’ll want document management software that offers quick and secure digital delivery and file transfer. This means that with the click of a button, you can request a document be scanned, imported and sent to you and other members of your firm.
Transitioning paper records to offsite storage can help reduce overhead costs, and a good software provider will transfer your files confidentially without workflow interruption. It’s important that your provider is certified secure and governed by proper chain-of-custody rules.
Digital document collaboration can be an extremely helpful feature for legal firms—provided it is done securely. Some legal document management software includes secure features that allow you to share and collaborate on documents with clients, experts and co-counsel. This kind of protected sharing is crucial for compliance with ABA Formal Opinion 477, which prohibits the sharing of sensitive client information via unencrypted email.
The ability to run reports on inventory, authorized users and items eligible for destruction will be vital to the long-term success of your records and information management program.
This system should be quick and easy-to-use while also maintaining compliance through a secure chain-of-custody. Visibility will certainly provide a more organized day-to-day, cutting back on costs and time spent, so you can focus on taking care of your clients.
Adopting a secure and useful legal document management software package is an important step toward a better-organized, compliant workplace.
Ian Robert Moran, former ARMA New Jersey board member, has been an executive leader in the records and information management industry for over 15 years. Moran has been responsible for helping companies create and maintain information governance programs and retention policies for national and regional operations including, but not limited to, secure shredding and record center operations, on-site staffing solutions, large-scale document conversion, and more. As an executive at Access, a company whose mission is to improve the way the world manages information, he leads a team and works with clients to implement solutions that lower expense, increase revenue, protect brand and improve business processes, compliance and security.