Law firms handle large volumes of data and documents, which underlines the significance of good document management practices. From pleadings, case files, contracts, to other client and legal records, attorneys and their staff need to be able instant access to required information. It’s high time law firms said goodbye to paper files and switched to electronic documentation, say industry experts. According to a recent law.com report, the COVID-19 pandemic could be a catalyst for a paperless law office. Legal transcription services can play a key role in the transition process.
Document management in law firms can made simpler and more efficient by following basic organizational procedures. Each type of litigation file should have all the critical documents such as correspondence, client documents, defendant’s documents, expert reports from the plaintiff and defendant, and deposition transcripts. All of these documents should be arranged in chronological order, with the most recent ones on top for easy retrieval. Today, with most documents created on computers, moving to electronic document management systems makes sense. The advantages of a paperless law firm are:
- Improved security for documents
- To meet client expectations
- Easy access to files with efficient search capabilities
- Access documents in the Cloud for any location
- Document centralization and shareability
- Enhances organization efficiency
- Saves time and money
An electronic document management system offers significant advantages for law firms such as usability, compliance, security, email linking, scalability, disaster recovery, document tagging, version control and life cycle management.
- Usability: Quality document management software is efficient and user-friendly. Firm members usually need to collaborate on the same documents. The system should have an efficient indexing system so that all users know how and where documents are stored. It would also have a well-designed search function, which allows people to search for documents by index as well as content.
- Compliance and Security: Document management solutions for law firms comply with industry regulations and standards. Law firms store confidential and privileged information. Key attributes of a secure system include authentication and usage controls, encryption, and governance policies.
- Email Linking and Integration with other Apps: Email is an important collaboration tool for law firms. Mails from clients and employees should be securely integrated through the document management platform. Archiving emails and related information centrally in a secure location will enable content to be accessed by authorized users. Likewise, law firms can benefit with systems that offer add-on integrations with other apps like MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, etc.
- Scalability: Both paper and electronic documents can grow exponentially in law firms, which is why a scalable document management application is vital. Efficient software support effortless scaling without compromising its competence and performance.
- Disaster Recovery: Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, or floods and man-made disasters such as IT systems failure can have devastating consequences for law firms by destroying valuable information. Electronic document management systems have mechanisms in place to preserve critical information and minimize business disruption if unexpected events occur.
- Document Tagging: Document tagging an important capability for document management software that law firms use. Tagging files with different parameters will make them easy to find. Tags or metadata can be keywords, key phrases or terms, which are succinct descriptions that provide context in describing the primary subject matter of the content (www.doc-tags.com).
- Version Control: Electronic document management allows law firms to find all the versions of the documents they handle. Version control makes it easy to find the latest version of a document or an older one for research, decision-making, and auditing.
- Life Cycle Management: The life cycle of a document is the process it goes through from its creation to its deactivation. Electronic document management allows law firms to the entire document life cycle, from document authoring creation internal and external collaboration, approval, digital signature, execution, amendment processing, to document destruction.
With advanced technology and cloud-based solutions, law firms can easily transition to a paperless environment where their documents are perfectly organized and instantly searchable. Legal transcription outsourcing will ensure that all audio, video, and paper-based content is digitized in the required format. Legal transcription of depositions, interrogations, legal briefs, wiretaps, conference calls, and jury instruction can be scanned, stored and indexed as digital files for retrieval and reference in the document management system.