About the author

Michael Powers

Global Director of Product Marketing at iManage

Modern Document Management: How Law Departments Can Work Smarter

By Michael Powers

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Organizations credit digital transformation with reducing costs, increasing agility, and delivering enhanced and new services. A possible unforeseen outcome of digital transformation is a rising volume of digital documents and information generated by business systems.

Digitally managing this increasing volume of documents presents a particular challenge for the legal industry. Law firms and legal departments require easy document accessibility and specific needs around workflow and collaboration.  There is no time in history when these needs have been more acute than in 2020 when remote working is the norm rather than the exception.

Traditional document management systems focused on helping enterprises organize and manage their documents. As these systems’ use increased, users found that they could not meet modern law departments and legal professionals’ needs.

Defining Modern Document Management

Modern document management is the next stage in the evolution of productivity solutions for corporate legal departments and users. These systems deliver an intuitive, consumer-like experience that empowers professionals to work more productively and collaboratively. At the same time, they enable corporate legal departments to be more efficient, agile, and responsive to the changing business environment.

1. Value to the User: The central tenet of modern document management is to empower the user by delivering a dramatically better experience. Its platform mirrors consumer applications like Amazon and Google, with intuitive features that work the way users want to work and requires minimal training. Modern document management starts with a clean, modern interface, accessible on any device, including personal computers, phones, or tablets. These systems store documents and emails with their associated project or matter, so users see the complete picture without bouncing between information silos. And it is seamlessly integrated with the authoring applications that people use every day, including Microsoft Word, Outlook, Gmail, and others.

2. Value to the information: Modern document management adds smart features and capabilities to enhance the value of information stored in documents and emails. For example, it displays document history and other metrics in intuitive visual dashboards and timelines. It anticipates user actions with smart document previews, suggested filing locations, and personalized search. And it integrates seamlessly with the tools legal professionals use, including matter management, contract management, and workflow software.

3. Value to the organization: Improving the individual user experience while enhancing the value of information delivers profound benefits at the organizational level. Modern document management helps legal organizations become more efficient and productive and deliver better outcomes for the business. Increased user experience drives user adoption and increases the amount of content stored in an organized and secure environment.  The system reduces the time spent – across the department – searching for the correct document. More importantly, it retains the department’s institutional knowledge, captured in documents and emails.

4. Comprehensive Governance and Security: The final tenet of modern document management is comprehensive security and governance. Legal organizations have stringent requirements for document security from both internal and external threats. This content requires comprehensive security protections, built on established industry best practices, to secure information assets and govern who can access them. Data is encrypted at every stage of the process, with security permissions defined by content type and automatically applied across all documents or email.

Real-World Case Study

To further illustrate these concepts, it’s helpful to consider a real-world law department example. A large multinational corporation with operations in 180 countries worldwide recently evaluated its legal technology environment. Their in-house team found that they struggled to manage their information resources effectively and identified specific pain points associated with finding, sharing, and uploading information. Their analysis showed that legal department employees needed to search and access four documents every day. The searches fall into three main categories:

  • “Easy” searches for documents the user has personally touched recently – 10-20 minutes
  • “Warm” searches for documents where the user has some confidence – 30 minutes-2 hours
  • “Precedent” searches where the user is looking for previously created content – 1-5 days

When calculating the business impact of this challenge across the department, it became evident that the productivity loss associated with inefficient document search was substantial. They found that data was stored in silos leaving users no single source of truth for business information. The result was a loss of speed and accuracy in searching for information, significantly limiting their ability to find and leverage precedent.

After conducting an evaluation and proof of concept, Legal Operations determined they would roll out a modern document management solution to enable knowledge sharing and leverage their information’s power. They based their decision on believing that they could deliver measurable value by better enabling legal work processes and products. Their objective was to deliver more than a traditional document management system.  They wanted to provide a complete legal information, knowledge, and workflow management solution. A modern document management solution’s core value is transforming how legal professionals get work done, improving productivity, enhancing user experience, increasing knowledge sharing, and improving the overall quality of legal services delivered to the business.