Thank you for visiting the Family Law Lawyer Tech & Practice blog. My name is John Harding. I am a family law lawyer practicing in Northern California. Long ago I realized that I could practice law more effectively and more efficiently (i.e., better and easier) by availing myself of the technological tools that are out there. I also learned that a successful law practice requires successful marketing. Hardware and software working together make me a better lawyer, and make my life easier. Marketing helps to bring in the business necessary for professional survival. By this blog I hope to share the tips, tricks, and technology that I have learned about so that others may benefit!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Document Management Overview

Document Management is a unified system of managing the storage of digital media on a computer, network or web-portal. The system may be further broken down into 4 basic categories:

(a) Manual Management -allowing users to decide not only where documents will be stored, but what the document naming convention will be. In most circumstances, each user has a very loose and inconsistent method of naming and storing documents. Problems include:

i. The proverbial hodge-podge of document names and locations;

ii. Relying on staff to store documents logically without policy;

iii. Wasting a ton of time finding documents;

iv. Undeveloped scanning/imaging policy (or relying on the 'copy guy' to set your policy).

v. Emails are stored by manually storing emails by subfolders in individual Outlook data files on local computers

(b) Firm Enforced Protocols -a system where users are told where/how to store and name documents, but a policy that relies upon user compliance, whether voluntary or somewhat enforced. For example, the firm will teach a new employee to store a word document, as [\SERVER\DOCS\CLIENTNAME\MATTERNAME\YYYY-MM-DD-NAME.DOC]. But this, again, requires employee compliance. There is no guarantee that a rogue employee will not store version 4 of a complex contract on her C: drive in \MyDocuments. Other issues range from lost documents still wreak havoc on productivity time; and scanning/imaging policy under development or underdeveloped (possibly relying on the 'copy guy'). And, as with the situation, emails are stored by manually storing emails by subfolders in individual Outlook data files on local computers;

(c) Using non DMS software to function as DMS software. This is a hybrid between (a) and (b). Most case management systems have some cross reference system to where a document is stored. For example, both Amicus Attorney and Lexis Front Office/Time Matters feature COM ADD­IN buttons (tool bar buttons) in Word and Word Perfect that allow users to manually store and then cross reference the location of a document to its case management file.

(d) Using full DMS software. Firms that deploy and employ software to store documents away index every word of every document and retrieve the documents by easy search terms. Document Management software captures all the content associated with a file or matter for requirements such as improved regulatory compliance, enhanced knowledge sharing, and document retention policies (when to keep and when to discard a document). Most DMS systems feature secure content for better protection of confidential information, reduced unnecessary access to sensitive content, and increased control of core assets and expertise. In other words, software centralizes project/matter management for faster access for everyone who needs to view a document, spreadsheet, graphic image, email, presentation, etc whether on site or extremely remote. These firms generally embracing the technology available; properly integrate the technology with other 'sister' software packages; invest in proper training for staff; and they have or will develop a true and robust scanning and imaging policy.

Please click here the the entirety of a comprehensive analysis of document management from Law Practice Today.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight. For solo and small firms, who can't afford complex systems/softweare, you should look at www.pixily.com.