The concept of productivity has a huge impact within the legal industry. Being that lawyers are compensated for their billable hours, maximizing productivity increases profitability, which has led the field of law to be a rather lucrative sector. However, a 2019 Georgetown Law Report shows that the traditional “seller’s market” dynamic of the legal industry is transforming into a buyer’s market, as more clients demand an increased value for their spending. Not only is profitability decreasing, but law firms are also falling in productivity because of the increased amount of time spent scanning, sorting and tracking large volumes of complex documentation in both paper and electronic formats.
A 2018 report claims that implementing innovative document management solutions could provide you with an annual savings of up to $74,100 per lawyer. At minimum, adopting a document management system will enable your law firm to increase both efficiency and productivity, in turn maximizing your profitability.
1. Go Paperless with a DMS
The evolution of technology has created new opportunities for legal firms to employ electronic document management systems (DMS). The affordability and scalability of these systems make it easy to locate and edit client files from a connected device. Instead of rummaging through a room filled with filing cabinets, cloud-based DMSs offer the benefits of minimal hardware requirements, updated software and easy access to technical support. This eliminates the time and cost associated with conventional document storage systems and allows lawyers to focus on case material, ultimately increasing their productivity and billable hours.
2. Get Electronic Conversion Tools
Even while using a DMS, inefficient handling can slow down your law firm’s activities, delay processes so they take more time than anticipated and cause losses in revenue. Tools, such as eCopy PDF Pro, seamlessly interface with most DMSs, eliminating bottlenecks and enabling legal employees to convert paper documents to a digital version with the simple touch of a button.
The use of additional tools increases productivity by using optical character recognition (OCR) programs to capture text, removing the costs and time it takes to manually apply date stamps, convert Word documents to PDFs or compress the format. eCopy provides imaging software that transforms a pressurized legal workflow into a smooth functioning process, reducing hours wasted on conversion and eliminating potentially costly errors.
3. Include Integrated Cloud Environment (ICE)
An Integrated Cloud Environment, or ICE, enables the use of multifunctional office printer systems tools that will save you and your firm hours of busywork. The system begins by using OCR to capture documents, compress and format them, and automatically date stamp them. Once they are prepared, the automated ICE system submits documents directly from the machine to the courts, in lieu of traditional methods such as courier, fax, email or file drop. With capabilities similar to the eCopy PDF Pro tool, integration with the cloud provides a layer of connectivity that your legal firm can capitalize on. In addition to eliminating mundane tasks, these capabilities enhance employees’ use of resources, which generates financial efficiencies.
4. Upgrade Your Ease of Access
Document management software is created with the intention of improving the functions of your firm. Most DMSs come equipped with internal search engines that allow quick navigation through your expansive libraries by keyword searches and tags, allowing you and your team easy access to all documents.
Furthermore, built-in versioning tools track edits and have the ability to backup and recover previous copies. This creates a consistent paper trail, which is invaluable if an audit or data breach occurs. For compliance purposes, a DMS allows you to organize documents so legal records reaching maturity date are easily disposed of, preventing liability issues and saving office space.
5. Increase Security with Monitoring Tools
Due to the sensitive nature of legal documents, it is imperative that your firm prioritizes the security of your files. Monitoring tools that are integrated within DMSs will create an additional layer of protection. Adaptable permission settings allow only designated employees, with proper credentials, access to privileged information. The monitoring tools will also surveil any user who views a document and record any edits that the user may make. Full transparency means increased accountability, allowing you and your team to make a promise of perfect confidentiality to your clients.
6. Align Your Team
Document Management Systems enable your firm to transition into a modern work environment, without losing an in-person connection. Workplace flexibility trends, such as bring your own device and remote working, are expected to gain more traction in the upcoming years, but nearly 70% of remote workers claim they feel disconnected.
By implementing a DMS, your firm’s documents will all be accessible in an easy-to-find location and employee communication can occur via one secure channel. This creates a culture of collaboration within your firm while simultaneously enabling real-time communication and complete social integration from anywhere, allowing your firm to offer competitive work-life balance benefits.
Benefits of Using a Legal DMS
The advantages of deploying a document management system for your legal firm include:
- Providing workers with simpler methods to organize, save, access and use documentation
- Creating a culture of collaboration among employees
- Customizing the system structure for staff to find what they are looking for faster
- Delivering an extra layer of security for data, with varying levels of permission for different users
- Ensuring only authorized persons have access to sensitive information
- Using built-in surveillance features to help monitor when documents are viewed and by whom
- Tracking all versions of documents and recording changes made.