Regardless of their specific niche within the Legal space, traditional legal businesses are continually overwhelmed with vast amounts of diverse legal documentation that is equally hard to store, classify, or retrieve. Getting through countless stacks of paper documents and manually collecting data is time-consuming: according to McKinsey, searching for info accounts for some 20% of legal firm employees’ time. In addition to being a big-time hassle to manage, paper docs and paper-based business processes are also a hefty hazard: they expose legal businesses to most of the force majeure risks, including theft, data compromise, loss, flood, fire, and other dangers. 

The adoption of Document Management Systems (DMS) by a large number of legal market players is believed to have helped businesses deal with these risks and the paper-related hassle. Simultaneously, many law firms are still sticking to their traditional business processes, being hesitant about leveraging the advantages of legal technology. Is it worth it for them to look into the benefits of using an electronic document management system more closely? What are the actual advantages of a document management system one can really count on?  Let’s discover them below. 

Document management system benefits

Time Efficiency and Productivity Gains

In the Legal space, Document Management software does wonders in terms of increasing productivity. Moreover, significant productivity gains are virtually guaranteed if you start using a DMS. Why?

The ability of DMSs to practically skyrocket productivity stems largely from document management systems’ ability to reduce the time spent by legal staff on two fundamental processes  – Document Search and Legal Research. 

According to statistics, professionals who work with paper spend 9,3 hours per week searching for documents and an average of 18 minutes to locate each of these documents. Document management solutions allow locating documents instantly, thus regularly enabling massive time savings. 

As a consequence, your lawyers can focus on billable work, tackle more tasks or cases, or cater to more accounts. The same goes for legal research. Being a vastly labor-intensive process, legal research is also usually immensely time-consuming. By equipping your DMS with an AI/NLP search capability, you can expedite the process by scores of times. Furthermore, you can improve the quality and result of this process by making it a great deal more encompassing, and, thus, more reliable and risk-free. 

Artem Dyranov: Business Analyst & QA Engineer at SPD Technology

Artem Dyranov

Business Analyst & QA Engineer at SPD Technology

“Unlike many other apps in other industries, document management applications can completely change the game for legal businesses that rely on paper. In this sense, when implemented correctly, they can bring not simply benefits, but a new business perspective and new opportunities.” 

 

More specifically, it becomes possible to quickly make a search through your legal documentation base or some external databases and uncover the full amount of information on a specific entity, situation, or place. For instance, this can be a specific case, court decision, or state or province. 

If you work with patents, an AI/NLP-equipped DMS allows you to easily locate and check registered products and trademarks.

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

In the Legal realm, documents serve as the backbone of all business processes and procedures. Not only different process actors, but also the different departments within a legal organization need to collaborate on them multiple times. 

The number of docs that need to be transferred, jointly processed, signed, and kept track of can make a legal firm’s internal interactions quite difficult. As to their external document-related interactions, lengthy email exchanges as a result of multiple changes and the need for personal visits for security or other reasons frequently make these kinds of interactions overly time-consuming and cumbersome for all the parties involved.

Can a DMS help? From our experience, it can. Actually, a well-developed DMS fully automates and greatly facilitates any legal document-related interactions. Talking of examples, in one of our recent major projects we were tasked with automating a very broad range of legal document-related interactions across a complex user hierarchy that comprises 8 different user roles.

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Users can share documents with other parties, including business counterparts, and collaborate on them by suggesting changes or making notes. This eliminates the need to exchange multiple emails with changes and corresponding approvals that may be difficult to keep track of. Furthermore, users can sign, stamp, and endorse docs remotely, without having to visit their counterparts in person or running the risk of obtaining a signature that will later turn out to be invalid, outdated, or spurious.

With an advanced DMS, you can track events with legal documents, manage the list of the process actors involved in working on a document, and add attachments to a document.

Lastly, with a Document Management system, documents captured at different locations can become immediately available for real-time collaboration to all your employees and other authorized users even if they are strewn across several different locations or geographies.   

Increased Security and Data Privacy

An incomparably higher level of security is one of the premier document management system benefits. Paper legal docs may not only be elusive to find. They are easy to steal or lose as a result of an accident or calamity. Exchanging their electronic versions via email or sharing them otherwise is not secure either: even if you opt for a channel you knowledgeably consider to be secure you no longer have control over the sent copies. 

Ensuring the authenticity of your counterparts’ signatures is not the only aspect of security a DMS covers. With a DMS, all your legal documents are stored centrally. They can be accessed from any location by any authorized and designated user. You no longer have to send them out to eventually be stored in software systems beyond your control. This makes it possible to put multiple safeguards in place to provide an entire new level of security of your legal documents. Such safeguards can include:

  • granular access control for your employees, dedicated partner logins (possibly, with two-factor authentication, Face Recognition, or Identity Verification); 
  • strong encryption (for instance, AES 256, Twofish, or similar) for all the contents of your document storage, and more. 

Even if you need to briefly involve an external person to collaborate on a doc you can do so securely, for example, with the help of a capability similar to the Guest or Signer features we’ve implemented.  

Also, if your DMS uses the Blockchain technology, it can efficiently prevent document counterfeits, as well as help make sure you are not dealing with a malicious actor when exchanging legal docs.

Improved Legal Compliance

The ability of Document Management systems to ensure legal compliance (for example, GDPR compliance) across all the core compliance areas is a unique advantage they can bring to your table. In other words, coping otherwise is likely to be harder for your legal business.   

Take any of the compliance requirements you need to tick off, be it the requirement to keep the intake of customer data to a minimum, introduce privileged access to your legal docs, or provide reliable data encryption. A DMS can enable you to easily meet any one of these requirements.

A DMS gives you the ability to easily identify and erase any redundant data or the data that has become due for erasure. You can log document-related activities, easily obtain customer consent, and expeditiously identify and trace any docs that have to do with a data breach, should one occur. Finally, you can quickly locate all the data that pertains to a client in response to their data subject request and delete this data with a single click. 

Need a more detailed look into Document Management System requirements? We have classified and explained them in our guide!

Cost Savings and Resource Optimization

Being a solution that greatly optimizes a legal company’s core business processes, a Document Management system creates different types of tangible cost savings.  

Firstly, any misfiled, lost, or missing doc comes with a price tag. For instance, according to a study by Coopers & Lybrand, the cost of locating a misfiled legal document is $120, while restoring a legal document sets you back $220. Thus, for a sizable legal operation, the costs related to poor document management practices can translate into very significant amounts of funds.

Secondly, a DMS eliminates the manual document search that accounts for a noticeable percentage of lawyers’ work hours, thus creating yet another type of cost savings.

Thirdly, electronic document management systems eliminate the need for physical document storage, and, consequently, the corresponding costs. 

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Faster Disaster Recovery

As we’ve mentioned earlier, paper documents are exposed to about every risk you can think of. For example, one of your lawyers may want to use their lunch break to get familiar with a doc and leave it at the diner’s, or take a doc home where it will fall victim to their family pooch. 

A pipe leak in an office upstairs or a short circuit someplace nearby may have all the more serious consequences – one may lose all their legal documentation, which can automatically mean the loss of one’s client base, and, virtually, the whole of their legal business.

A Document Management solution can help make sure your legal documents never leave the corporate ecosystem they reside in. But, most importantly, it can make your legal documentation completely immune to any accidents, stealing attempts, or calamities: your docs will be stored in a secure Cloud that  has a significantly higher protection level guaranteed by the Cloud storage provider.

Improved Workflow Automation

The success of virtually any legal business hinges on how well their workflows are organized. Legal staff spend up to 95% of their time on working with documents and emails, and the smooth functioning of any workflows that make up the related business processes is of paramount importance. 

Document management solutions coherently automate all the workflows that enable the retrieval, review, approval, assignment, and signature of documents. They dramatically minimize the time lawyers spend on the related tasks and reduce the likelihood of errors.

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Furthermore, document management systems downright revolutionize customer management-related workflows. They provide reliable and secure communication and collaboration means that minimize or phase out the need for personal visits or the use of less secure communication channels. Among other advantages, this can sometimes give legal providers the ability to expand their market.  

In Сoncusion  

In the Legal space, the benefits of a document management system as a vehicle of achieving greater productivity and greater time-efficiency can hardly be overstated. 

In essence, solutions of this type are capable of completely revolutionizing legal companies’ key business processes and creating very serious time- and cost savings. Already now, these time- and cost savings create a tangible competitive edge that will be increasingly hard for the competition to counter using traditional working practices and approaches. 

In this sense, the adoption of an electronic document management system by those legal market players that are still hesitant about the move is just a matter of time. 

FAQ

What is the purpose of a document management system?

A document management system allows you to quickly locate, manage, share, and sign documents, as well as collaborate on them securely within and outside your organization.

What are three  benefits of a document management system?

The main benefits of a document management system include its abilities to dramatically reduce the time taken by document search, improve the quality of legal research and reduce the time it takes, help ensure GDPR and other compliance, and automate all the required workflows for their seamless functioning.

What are document management system pros and cons?

Document management systems expedite document search and make your legal research and analysis a lot more secure, encompassing, and risk-free. They eliminate a host of physical risks, like fire, flood, theft, and others. They also enable significant time- and cost savings. 
On the flip side, entrusting the development of your DMS to a less experienced provider of bespoke software may expose it to such security-related risks as phishing attacks, viruses and malware, as well as attempts to gain unauthorized access to your legal documents. Again, a seasoned software provider with sufficient expertise in securing complex applications is always in a position to reliably secure your DMS against all these risks.