Secure document management is an essential part of the legal process. It’s critical that legal counsel, whether it’s internal or outside, have complete oversight over how information is gathered, amended, stored, saved, submitted and shared during important legal cases.
Without a robust document management system in place, lawyers don’t have the necessary tools or visibility to ensure they are working on the latest version of a contract, affidavit, agreement, etc. Similarly, without access to all documents in one convenient place, chasing down different documents stored on different devices and hard drives is both frustrating and inefficient.
In addition, they lack the confidence of knowing their sensitive documents are safe and will remain in the correct hands. They can’t be guaranteed that the system won’t be accessed by anyone with a vested interest in gaining unauthorised access to legal documents involved in a case.
In effect, when a sound document management system is not in place legal teams are unable to do their job to the best of their abilities, and put at risk their credibility and professionalism. So what does a best-of-breed document management solution look like for legal firms and businesses with in-house legal counsel?
Superior document discovery systems
Document discovery is one of the most important aspects of the legal process. Without it, lawyers are unable to discharge their obligations appropriately. During this stage, legal teams must gather, process and file documents related to a case as part of the evidence gathering process.
To facilitate this task, it’s vital for legal teams to have a watertight eDiscovery support system so that relevant documents can be accessed and submitted at a moment’s notice. The system should encompass the collection and preservation of all electronically stored information - from emails, file attachments, comments and tasks to activities. The solution should ideally provide a data leak investigator capability, that is able to export all files associated with a user for a given time period.
Enabling easier collaboration
When legal teams are preparing documents for a case or transaction, it’s crucial for every member of the group who is authorised to amend documents to be able to make changes quickly and easily.
A robust document management system gives individuals who are authorised to amend documents the ability to do so. At the same time, the system must be able to be configured so that members of an opposing legal team are prevented from accessing certain documents or sensitive information.
For instance, during a transaction, legal teams from both the sell-side and buy-side might be able to access the same digital data room. But lawyers on the sell-side may wish to only give preferred bidders access to certain documents, and hold off giving other bidders access to documents until further down the sale process.
Premium solutions prevent file downloads with view-only roles and deter unauthorised forwarding and printing of documents via watermarking. Any worthwhile document management system should provide high levels of governance and compliance by monitoring all shared documents based on corporate policy, and quarantining any documents containing sensitive data to prevent data leakage.
Excellent long-term document management options
With such a large volume of documents to manage, legal teams also require outstanding functionality to appropriately manage documents related to a case once it’s closed.
Which is why the best legal teams have implemented a document management system that makes it easy to save and store files.
Should the team need to access files related to a case down the track, they should be able to find files quickly and easily, even if they were not involved in the case when it was active.
The most secure and robust document management systems:
- Give boards and management comfort that the businesses they are entrusted with overseeing are meeting regulatory obligations to store legal and other important documents appropriately.
- Automatically manage documents within statutes of limitation so that when documents are no longer required to be stored they are automatically deleted.
- Increase productivity levels as legal teams no longer have to waste substantial time looking for specific information or current drafts of important documents.
- Give all team members confidence they are working on the very latest version of a document, no matter how many people have previously amended it.
Above all, a great document management system should support overall business operations, increase business efficiencies and ultimately contribute to the bottom line. If your system can’t do this, it’s time to look for one that does.