How many hours do you waste looking through paper case files each week? Probably too many. According to the 2020 State of U.S. Small Law Firms survey, which asked more than 400 solo and small firm lawyers about their biggest challenges, 74 percent said they spend too much time on administrative tasks and not enough time practicing law.
Adopting a secure legal document management software (DMS) system can help streamline your practice, increase productivity, and protect your sensitive information. DMS systems allow you to create documents and retrieve them faster. They also act as a centralized storage hub for documents, emails, forms, and files, and can even automate your workflows, helping you take care of administrative work quickly.
These systems also provide easy access to authorized users no matter where they’re located (as long as they have a reliable internet connection) — a necessity in today’s world.
Once you’ve decided to use a document management system, the only question left is which one is the best fit for your needs. To help you choose, we’ve summarized the main features you should evaluate and five popular solutions many firms are already using.
5 key features of legal document management software systems
Not every legal document management system will fit your business, so it’s important to identify the must-have features for your firm. Before we take a look at the top-rated systems, here are five important aspects to consider as you shop around:
- Scalability and advanced features. Hopefully your DMS will support your firm well into the future, which means that, in addition to considering your current needs, you need to figure out which features you might want to implement later or as your business expands. Select a document management software system that can easily grow with your business.
- Security and disaster recovery. Find a solution with an established yet flexible security plan you can customize for optimal protection. Look for features like automatic backups, password-protected access, different levels of read/write permissions, and employee action tracking.
- Usability. Read customer reviews to learn about possible usability or reliability issues. (G2 and Capterra are two well-known review sites.) The solution you select should be intuitive to use, so your team can easily file, access, and navigate documents and other digital content as needed.
- Collaboration and integration. Prioritize features like real-time editing, file-sharing capabilities, integrations with other plug-ins, and the ability to add, restrict, or remove user access to certain documents.
- Version control. Reviewing older versions of files can save time, money, and headaches, especially when time is of the essence. Version control gives you confidence that you’re accessing the latest version of a file, case study, or report.
5 top-rated legal document management software systems
Keeping the above features in mind, let’s take a look at five top-rated DMS systems.
iManage, particularly iManage Cloud, empowers attorneys and paralegals to be productive from anywhere in a safe and secure environment. It doesn’t require onsite servers or hardware because iManage handles the hosting for you. In that respect, it delivers security, reliability, and agility while keeping costs low.
This software is a popular choice among law firms, but its abundant features may make it most appropriate for larger firms.
Worldox is a cloud-based document and email management software solution designed to improve overall organizational efficiency. It has won nearly every key award in the legal software industry because it has so many features relevant to law firm document management.
Worldox integrates with a number of other software products, and its search capability is highly rated. However, some users have noted that the software has a somewhat steep learning curve.
NetDocuments is another top-rated, cloud-based system that provides enterprise-level security, mobility, disaster recovery, and collaboration solutions for organizations that require a high level of data security — like law firms.
You can turn paper-based documents into digital, searchable content through its optical character recognition feature. NetDocuments is also noteworthy for its advanced security capabilities and award-winning access controls.
MyCase merges free data storage and easy file access with user collaboration. This solution gives attorneys the ability to edit, comment, view document history, and share documents with clients. Unique features include a high level of data security, multiple e-signature options, and integration with other DMS tools, like Dropbox.
LogicalDOC is a document management solution that tracks the entire life cycle of a document or file and is available as either a cloud-based or an onsite solution. It also provides unlimited file storage, the ability to collaborate with other users, email integration, and multiuser system access.
Overall, users give it very high marks and report that it’s easy to install and navigate.
Depending on your firm’s unique needs and budget, each of these legal document management software systems can help your skilled practitioners spend less time on administrative tasks and more time practicing law.