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Top 3 Document Management Challenges for Law Firms

Today’s legal organizations are facing a number of transformative changes when it comes to managing documents. Briefcases and file folders are rapidly being replaced by laptops and tablets, and firms that are unwilling to adapt to the new digital-first landscape are at risk of falling behind their competitors. As LegalTech developers work to build the legal document software to facilitate this complex transition, they need to keep a few of these challenges in mind.

Top 3 Legal Document Management Challenges

1. Transparency

The ability to deliver a quality customer experience has become the key competitive differentiator for many businesses and the legal industry is no exception. While there will always be a market for specialized “big law” firms that provide strategic, customized services to high-end clients, the majority of firms are focusing more on routine legal services. Today’s legal customers expect the same level of transparency they get from other businesses when it comes to pricing, communication, and visibility into the legal process.

Putting the right LegalTech systems in place to facilitate key document management processes can help legal teams build a better relationship with their clients. Developers can provide those systems by integrating essential features like secure document viewing into their applications. An HTML5 viewer with file conversion capabilities makes it easy for firms to share important documents with clients without endangering privacy. Annotation markups can speed up the review process, and redaction tools allow documents to be shared without exposing personally identifiable or confidential information.

2. Contract Automation

For firms handling high volumes of routine legal work, having the right automation tools in place for streamlined legal document management is essential for sustainable growth. According to one estimate, nearly a quarter of legal work could be handled by automation technology, which not only frees up attorneys to focus on more high value tasks, but also allows firms to take on additional clients without overburdening their existing resources.

Contract management is one area where LegalTech developers are making huge strides in terms of automation. Thanks to document assembly tools, it’s now possible to programmatically build contracts from customizable templates, replacing fillable sections with client and case specific information (such as names, dates, and various numbers). Assembling contracts in this fashion significantly reduces the manual errors so often associated with copying and pasting in a word processing program. It also allows firms to draft contracts much more quickly, helping them to accommodate growing workflows as their business scales over time.

3. Accurate Data Capture

Gathering information quickly and accurately is becoming just as important to the legal industry as it is to other sectors. It’s especially valuable for a legal document management system that needs to support complicated processes like eDiscovery, contract negotiation, client intake, and court filings. Without some way of quickly converting documents into digital form, sorting them into the proper database, or finding and retrieving files when they’re needed, attorneys will struggle to handle cases and the needs of their clients efficiently. 

Law firms have been slow to replace their paper-based records systems with digital versions, but LegalTech developers can help to ease the transition by building forms processing and barcode recognition capabilities into their applications. Data extraction tools can pull essential information from a wide range of legal forms much more quickly and accurately than would be possible with manual entry. This is especially useful for streamlining the client intake process.

During the eDiscovery process, it’s not uncommon for firms to gather scanned images of documents that cannot be readily searched. Optical character recognition (OCR) tools can extract the text from these images and use it to create a searchable PDF file. This makes it much easier for attorneys to locate important details when they’re needed most.

When it comes to managing files, assigning barcodes to them makes it easier to sort and track them within the legal document management system. When a document uploaded months ago is needed for a court filing, it can be pulled up right away simply by referencing the barcode. They are extremely useful in instances where large batches of files need to be processed immediately, but not reviewed until later. This is a common issue during eDiscovery, when a batch of documents may be received from one source (such as a government agency) and stored in a database for later review.

Integrating the Right Features LegalTech Customers Need

Although LegalTech solutions understandably put a lot of focus on managing billable hours and facilitating client communication, developers should not overlook the immense value of effective legal document management software. By building these tools directly into their applications, they can provide an all-in-one solution that allows firms to reduce their technical debt and improve efficiency across their practice.

Accusoft’s collection of API and SDK integrations can transform LegalTech platforms into fully-featured document management systems for law firms. We work closely with developers to ensure that we enhance their application’s capabilities with proven technology so they can get to market faster.

  • PrizmDoc Viewer: Integrate HTML5 viewing directly into your LegalTech application to provide secure viewing, conversion, annotation, OCR, and redaction features.
  • PrizmDoc Editor: Accelerate contract automation with programmatic document assembly that can prepare documents for review using the firm’s pregenerated templates.
  • FormSuite for Structured Forms: Process intake documents and other structured legal forms quickly and accurately to improve practice efficiency.
  • Barcode Xpress: Sort and track documents within legal document management software using multiple forms of barcodes that allow for easier routing and retrieval.

If you’re building the next generation of document management systems for law firms, Accusoft has the integrations that will set your application apart from the crowd. Talk to one of our LegalTech specialists today to learn out how we can help you meet the legal industry’s evolving needs.