How to create an in-house legal document management process

Jan 27, 2023

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Document management may not sound like the most exciting topic — but there are advantages to finding what you’re looking for when you need it!

Searching through different systems for information is a massive waste of valuable time. In fact, 40 percent of legal professionals spend three or more hours a day trying to find the right legal documents to determine matter history or outside counsel advice.

The storage and handling of legal documents are essential for a smooth-running in-house legal department. It also means you can save time, especially when colleagues in the wider business can access documents they need without distracting the legal team.

In this article, we’ll look at what document management is, why it’s important, and how to create a document management process that saves time and improves the productivity of your in-house legal team members.

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What is legal document management?

Document management is a part of legal operations and uses technology to organize and structure documents. In corporate legal departments, documents are often strewed across inboxes, document folders, hard drives, and different management systems and software, making finding documents difficult and a costly waste of time.

Document management traditionally focused on documents vital to the business. However, Gartner says the document management market is undergoing a transformation that sees solutions managing all documents generated throughout the course of everyday work life.

“Investing in legal technology that supports document management takes care of some of the manual tasks in-house professionals are used to doing, freeing up time to spend on higher-value work such as strategic planning and working on larger business goals.”

Shaun Plant — Chief Legal Evangelist, LawVu

What are the benefits of a legal document management system?

A document management system provides your in-house legal department and the wider business with:

  • a single source of truth;
  • the knowledge of where documents are stored and how to retrieve them;
  • risk reduction;
  • secure digital documents;
  • access to documents anywhere, at any time;
  • version control and activity records;
  • a system suitable for regulatory compliance; and
  • increased collaboration across legal and the business.

What are the components of a successful legal document management system?

To be truly effective, a document management system needs the following components:

  1. standardized document names;
  2. automated file structure;
  3. version control;
  4. user-friendly tools and processes;
  5. full-text search;
  6. integrations between legal and business solutions; and
  7. a single source of truth.

Which is the best legal document management solution?

There’s an easy answer to this — the best solution is the one that suits the needs of your legal team and the wider business.

You’ll want to consider the types of matters you work with, the associated documents, and naming conventions for your files.

Download the template in the Connected Legal Certification’s Document Management lesson to learn more about saving time and being more productive.

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