Whether it is contracts, board minutes, emails or reports—you manage numerous legal documents and files every day. Yet, it can be difficult and time-consuming to track, store, manage and search all your documents.
What if there was a way to standardize your information and create consistency—while saving extensive time and money?
The best legal matter management software has been continually adapting over the years to meet the needs of legal professionals. According to the latest report by Mordor Intelligence, the global document management system market is expected to grow from $5.51B in 2020 to $11.47B in 2026. This growth is driven by several factors:
- The need for increased efficiency in the workplace
- Access to better technology
- Greater focus on sustainability and desire to reduce paper in the workplace.
Legal matter management software has built-in document management features, made specifically for legal professionals, to help you more efficiently and effectively manage all your documents, cases, files (and more)—all from a single location, within a single system.
A few of the benefits of managing your documents within a matter management system include:
- Centralize documents to provide a knowledge base of past documents
- Organize every document or file anyone entered into the system (based on their security settings) stored at the appropriate case and creator
- Establish processes for saving, security and storage of documents
- Simplify your workflow
- Improve accuracy and productivity.
Five Essential Features of a Legal Document Management System
As you seek out the best matter management system for your organization, here are a few of the must-have features to look for when it comes to managing documents, cases, files and matters more efficiently and effectively.
- Document Tracking
With so many documents you are maintaining and collaborating on daily, it is important to be able to easily track the latest version. Document versioning within your matter management system enables you to track multiple versions of the same document, while maintaining the history of the current version.
Another feature to look for is the ability to build searches and filters automatically as documents are created and logged into the system. An example would be to display a dynamic list of the most recent contracts of a certain type.
Users have the ability to define what types of information show on searches based on the documents in the system. This new level of organization is sure to boost productivity across your office.
- Document Storage
One of the most desirable features of document management is the ability for users to have at their fingertips every document or file anyone has entered into the system stored at the appropriate case/matter and creator. You want a matter management system that gives you flexibility to store and index any file type since there are so many different documents you are working with. A system must have the ability to store at least the following file types:
- Microsoft Office (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Outlook messages
- Scanned images in any file format
Another important feature to look for is the ability to integrate with other programs that you are already using. If you are using Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, you want to be able to quickly and conveniently store any document that is opened within an Office or Acrobat application within your matter management system.
- Document Management
When selecting a document management system that works for you, it is critical that you can define document types and classifications. This means that your document management system will adhere to your organization’s unique structure and processes.
You want to be able to save your documents to your matter management system as quickly as possible to save time and increase productivity. One way to do this is through a button on your email application that lets you save sent and received emails to a case/matter within your matter management system through just one click. You can then delete the message from your email inbox, freeing up valuable storage space and making the message even easier to locate via the matter management system. Other features to look for to better manage your documents include:
- Activate a drop zone on your desktop that allows you to drag and drop a file or document quickly into your matter management system and categorize it
- Create standard forms, letters, contracts and other templates directly within the software
- Create and edit documents from within Microsoft Word without leaving the system
- Automatically merge documents into templates using data from a matter or case
- Create workflows to send reminders automatically based on steps in the process.
- Document Search
What good is a document if you can’t locate it when you need to? This is where document search features become valuable. A matter management system should allow you to search documents by the metadata contained on the document profile. Searching criteria should include document name, dates by range, status, number, type, classification, sent to, signed by or created by, and combinations of these. You want to be able to search for documents by either the case/matter, user or system-wide level.
Once a document is in your system, you also want to be able to search words within the document (a Boolean type of search) to find what you need. By automatically indexing documents once they are saved, a good system makes this type of search possible and intuitive.
Another coveted search feature is keyword note searching on all note types within the system. Notes can be searched globally at the case/matter and user level and narrowed by type of note, such as a calendar, custom window, file note, to-do, documents, email, mail logs, phone logs and time entries. The ability to access your documents and files so comprehensively and with ease will save you time in your day so you can be more productive.
- Document Security
The security of your documents is a crucial part of selecting a matter management system so that you can maintain compliance with local laws, maintain attorney-client privilege and protect your documents from unauthorized access. It’s important to have a document management solution that goes beyond basic user permissions.
Legal document management software offers the ability to grant different access levels to both in-house team members and outside team members who interact with a file. This different level of access is critical to protecting your clients, legal department and partners.
Here are a few key security features to look for:
- Documents can’t be edited after they are sent or filed
- Previous versions of a document can’t be edited to maintain history
- Automatic locking of documents from further editing if certain criteria are met
- If a user does not have access to a case/matter, then the user does not have access to the documents
- Once a user has access to a case/matter, then the second level of security occurs: access (private document), read only (lock) or update access.
Organize Your Documents With Ease Through Legal Software
Document management is all about how you organize and classify your documents for easy access, sharing and retrieval. A good document management system can help speed up your workflow, improve your accuracy and save you valuable time and money, and a matter management system that includes a comprehensive, built-in document management system can eliminate the cost of multiple systems, as well as the possibility of data silos.
With Legal Files’ document management features, you can access all your important documents remotely from a central location. Through indexing, versioning and full-text search capabilities, you can easily find and access all your documents and files and share them with approved team members no matter where they are.
With 30 years of experience supporting organizations across a number of industries, Legal Files gives professionals the document storage, sharing and organization capabilities needed to focus on the bigger picture of legal matter management.
“It’s easier to search and find what you’re looking for. If you need to find a certain word or phrase in an email, or any other document, Legal Files can quickly do that for you. We didn’t have the option before, so you ended up going through email after email, one at a time.”
Darcy Jablonski, Legal Contracts Manager
Cannon Design, a Legal Files Client
Request a demo to learn more about how we help organizations like yours manage what matters to you most.