Top 3 Document Management Challenges for Law Firms
Law firms are undergoing significant transition as digitally-native documents meet historic paper processes. The result? Unique document management challenges surrounding collaboration, internal efficiency, and compliance. Let’s tackle three top pain points faced by legal organizations and some potential options for relief.
As noted by Thomson Reuters, recent market shifts have created a new subset of client expectations, including interagency collaboration to deliver in-depth knowledge services. This is especially problematic for law firms serving corporate clients. Once satisfied with basic advice concerning the legal ramifications of document creation, sharing, and distribution, digital-first organizations now demand legal processes and partners capable of integrating new technologies and workflows.
The challenge for many firms? A lack of digital collaboration tools necessary to quickly modify, annotate, and share documents among collaborators and clients. The solution? Content management toolkits that easily integrate with existing applications provide multi-platform, multi-language document handling functions including conversion, creation, editing, and annotation.
Internal Structure and Clarity
Recent survey data shows that 60 percent of law firms are struggling with a lack of internal efficiency, and 72 percent of those firms aren’t effectively addressing the challenge. One key area of concern? Managing the continual influx of evidence in the form of documents and images and ensuring they’re properly cleaned and edited for use in court.
While many legal documents are now sent via email, the widespread use of smartphone cameras and other digital tools means that critical documents could take the form of .JPG, .TIFF, raster, or PDF files. Paper forms also pose a problem. If witness statements or affidavits can’t be effectively converted into digital formats, organizations must rely on traditional filing methods which could lead to misplaced or miscategorized information.
Accusoft’s FormFix SDK provides a simple alternative. The ability to build powerful forms processing apps that easily recognize text, extract specific fields, and cleanup scanned images to improve clarity.
Compliance as a Virtue
Forty-one percent of law firms point to compliance as a top challenge. GDPR is especially problematic for U.S. firms that assist clients worldwide. In particular, the “right to be forgotten” is difficult for companies to manage. EU members protected by GDPR can demand the erasure of their personal data “without undue delay.” In addition, firms must ensure that user consent for data collection is clear and purposeful — and must be prepared to return or destroy any personal data if that consent is revoked.
These obligations pose considerable — if not impossible — challenges for law firms with thousands of files spread out across multiple storage locations and formats. Without the ability to effectively search, audit, and obtain files on-demand, organizations run the risk of ongoing legal challenges, monetary penalties, and potential reputation damage.
To avoid compliance challenges, law firms need advanced document viewing, search, and editing capabilities driven by best-in-class APIs designed to work with firms' existing tools and databases. With the ability to quickly find documents, redact critical information, and ensure chain of custody, firms can satisfy regulatory obligations without impacting client experience.
Effectively practicing law in a digital-first world demands order. The sheer volume and variety of forms, images, and other assets requires integrated application APIs and SDKs capable of managing, processing, and finding documents on-demand. To learn more about enhancing case management in your current application, contact us today.