Trends in Legal Software – Part One
Stay current by exploring the latest trends in legal software
Technology is like a living creature. It grows and changes. Legal matter management software is no different. To keep up with the changing wants and needs of legal professionals, legal case and matter management has evolved over the years. While some changes may only be minor improvements, others are game-changers for members of the legal profession.
Wondering how you can determine which changes are important as you look for a new program for your legal department or law office? The team at Legal Files Software has created a two-part series that explains the latest trends in legal software. In part one of this series, we will explain key trends related to data and document management. These include using case management as a data hub, seeking comprehensive document management and synchronizing the software with email and calendaring programs. Let’s dive in and explore these trends.
Trend one – Case management as a data hub
The purpose of legal software is to help your office become more organized and streamlined. Many legal departments and law offices didn’t have a centralized location for information in the past. If an attorney or a paralegal needed to find something, it could be in a filing cabinet, on a shared drive, in an email, in a password-protected file, on a random desk or in someone’s head. Running around trying to find this important information was a waste of time and energy. Not only that, it created unnecessary stress.
The best way to solve this problem is by purchasing a legal software program that keeps everything in a convenient and easily accessible location for all members of the team. Although each area of law is different and every office is unique, all legal practitioners can benefit from case management software that serves as a centralized data hub.
A program like Legal Files Software pulls together everything you need to deal with a case or a matter. You don’t need to check 15 different places to find every document or piece of data because it’s all in one place. This information can live in a variety of databases, including ones for legal, accounting and HR. Sometimes, this information can come from external as well as internal sources. You should look for a legal software program that can integrate and communicate with all of these sources to bring it all together.
In more than 50 percent of the requests for proposals (RFPs) that our team receives, legal practitioners cite this capability as a requirement for the legal software they select. However, not every software program offers this functionality, so be sure to do your research before you commit to a product.
Trend two – Comprehensive document management
Related to the trend of using legal software as a data hub is legal software with robust document management. Most of the work that legal professionals do every day is tied to documents. This includes contracts, letters, emails, forms, research, briefs, memos and so much more. Not only do attorneys and paralegals need a centralized location to create and keep all of these documents, they also need a convenient way to update them and search for specific keywords.
The level of detail that a law office or a legal department will need with their document management varies. Some may only need a place to store and view their documents, while others may want more advanced functions like document assembly. However, regardless of their needs, most clients want a program that offers document management that is not just an afterthought.
If your office already has a document management system and you are looking at legal software, you’ll want to look for programs that can seamlessly integrate with your new system. You can’t have a centralized data hub if your legal software can’t communicate with your document management system.
If you don’t have any system in place, you have two choices for your document management. The first option is to purchase legal case management software with document management. The other option is to buy software for document management in addition to your case matter management system. Thinking about your budget and needs can help make this decision easier.
Trend three – Email and calendar synchronizing
One final piece that relates to having a centralized location for information and documents is email and calendar synchronizing. Attorneys and paralegals have come to rely heavily on programs like Outlook to manage their emails and calendars. In fact, it would be difficult to function without it.
When you’re thinking of purchasing a new legal software system for case or matter management, you should look for one that will seamlessly integrate with your email and calendar program. The trend is to create legal software that includes two-way integration. For example, you can create a new matter from your email and you can also get email from within the software. However, not every program has reached this level of integration and sophistication. This means that you need to ask a lot of questions to figure out if a legal software program will give you the integration that you need to stay organized in your daily work.
Final thoughts on trends in legal software that keep documents and data organized
This post has focused on the trends in legal software that help you keep documents and information in one, centralized and easily accessible location. To make the most of your new legal matter management software, you’ll want to make sure that it includes case management as a data hub, robust document management and integration with email and calendars.
In part two of this series, we’ll take you through three more trends, including comprehensive conversions, customization and cloud-based software. After reading these posts, you’ll know where legal software is going and what you need to look for to make sure that your law office or legal department can take full advantage of what this technology has to offer.