Legal document management software is designed to help lawyers organize, store, and access legal documents. With the right software, you can save time, increase productivity, and reduce the risk of errors or misplaced documents. As a legal digital marketing agency with a wealth of experience, our team at Grow Law Firm always encourages our clients to use software to aid their practice.
In this guide, we'll explore the different types of document automation and management systems available, the top 10 legal document management systems, and how to choose the right system for your law firm. We'll also discuss the must-have document management features for lawyers and why lawyers need legal document management software.
Types of Document Automation and Management Systems
There are various document management systems in the legal field, such as standalone software solutions and built-in tools within larger systems. In this section, we will explore the different types of document automation and management systems available, highlighting the key differences and benefits of each.
— Standalone Software
Standalone document management software is designed to handle document organization, collaboration, and retrieval complexities. These systems operate independently and provide a dedicated platform for managing legal documents. They offer many features, including document indexing, version control, metadata tagging, and advanced search capabilities. Standalone software allows law firms full control over their document management processes and tailor the system to their unique requirements.
— Build-in Tools in Large Systems
Many larger practice management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems offer built-in document management tools as part of their comprehensive solutions. These tools are integrated within a broader system encompassing various aspects of law firm operations, such as case management, billing, and client communication. The advantage of using built-in tools is the seamless integration with other functionalities, allowing for a more unified workflow. Law firms that already utilize large systems may find it convenient to leverage the document management capabilities within their existing platform.
10 Best Legal Document Management Systems
The systems mentioned in the section below provide a comprehensive solution to managing, storing, and organizing the vast amount of legal documents that are essential to the practice of law. These systems offer a wide range of important features and benefits for law firms.
Clio is a cloud-based legal practice management software with a robust document management system that our team at Grow Law Firm greatly recommends. It offers a centralized platform for storing, organizing, and retrieving documents, with features such as document version control, collaboration tools, and secure sharing.
Clio offers different pricing plans, starting at $39 per user/month for the EasyStart plan and going up to $129 per user/month for the Complete plan. A 7-day free trial is available for all plans except the Complete plan.
Features: Document storage, document retrieval, electronic signatures, document automation, and desktop integration.
- Improved efficiency and productivity in document management.
- Enhanced collaboration and communication among team members.
- Reduced risk of document loss or misfiling.
- Increased security and protection of sensitive data.
- Streamlined workflows and better overall practice management.
- Some users have reported difficulties finding clear instructions for setting up the client portal, which may cause frustration.
- Uploading files to Clio may not be seamless, with some users experiencing compatibility issues with the MS Office suite and limited photo viewing options.
2. Microsoft SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform that allows users to share files, data, news, and resources within and outside their organization. It offers customizable sites for teams to streamline work and supports seamless collaboration across different devices. With SharePoint, users can discover data, expertise, and insights for informed decision-making. It also enables the creation of digital experiences and custom apps to enhance productivity and automate workflows.
Pricing starts at $5.00 per user/month for the SharePoint Online Plan 1, while the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan costs $12.50 per user/month and offers a one-month free trial.
Features: Cloud-based data storage, web-based file & folder management, access management, customization, and real-time collaboration.
- Efficient and secure data storage in the cloud.
- Seamless sharing and integration of data across teams and departments.
- Web-based file and folder management with customizable access controls.
- Enhanced collaboration and real-time communication within and outside the organization.
- Streamlined workflows and increased productivity through digital experiences and custom apps.
- Some users may find uploading and downloading files cumbersome, especially if they are used to drag-and-drop functionality.
- Limited integration and extension opportunities with non-Microsoft tools and platforms.
Smokeball is a cloud-based practice productivity software designed for small law firms. It offers a comprehensive suite of features, including email, document, calendar, and task management, as well as time tracking and billing technology. Smokeball also provides mobile apps for iOS and Android, allowing users to access and manage their practice information from anywhere.
Pricing information for all 4 pricing plans is not readily available on the website, but the Bill plan has a 30-day free trial.
Features: Time tracking and timesheets, legal document automation and assembly, centralized document storage, e-signatures through DocuSign integration, and 14,000 preloaded document templates.
- Game changer software eliminates the need for third-party programs and offers significant advantages compared to other software options.
- Improved billing accuracy and increased billable time with automatic time tracking, leading to better insights for billing and fee petitions.
- Quick response time and attentive account managers ensure excellent customer support.
- A centralized document repository improves document accessibility and collaboration among team members.
- Integration with email accounts streamlines email management and reduces time spent searching for important emails.
- Cumbersome and difficult to use for replicating client matters and locating files.
- Limited integration with certain software suites, such as Adobe, WordPerfect, Salesforce, Hubspot, and Office 365 Online.
MyCase is a cloud-based legal practice management software designed for solo and small law firms. It offers a comprehensive suite of features, including document management, contact management, calendaring, billing, and invoicing. MyCase is accessible from any device or computer, allowing users to manage their practice from anywhere.
Pricing starts at $39 per user/month for the Basic plan and goes up to $89 per user/month for the Advanced plan.
Features: Online document storage, scheduling, workflow management, billing and invoicing, and trust accounting.
- Improved efficiency and productivity in law firm operations.
- Enhanced client communication and satisfaction.
- Reduced risk of missing deadlines and appointments.
- Increased accuracy in billing and invoicing.
- Centralized management of client information and documents.
- Confusing user interface that can be difficult to navigate.
- Limited integration with third-party services, hindering seamless workflow and collaboration across platforms.
PracticePanther is a user-friendly and secure law practice management software that helps law firms automate workflows and increase efficiency. It offers various features for document management, eSignatures, collaboration, time tracking, and billing. Practice Panther is accessible from any device, including mobile phones, making it convenient for lawyers and legal teams to work from anywhere. The software provides a centralized platform for storing and managing legal documents, streamlining the document filing and organization process.
Pricing starts at $49 per user/month for the Solo plan and goes up to $89 per user/month for the Business plans. A 7-day free trial is available.
Features: Centralized law firm document management, cloud-based document access, custom tags for document organization, built-in e-signature functionality, and integration with favorite apps.
- PracticePanther is highly regarded for its user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation, even for non-tech-savvy individuals.
- Users appreciate PracticePanther's efficient time-tracking capabilities, which enable them to stay ahead of deadlines and accurately monitor billable hours.
- PracticePanther's support team is known for its quick response time and prompt assistance.
- The Software facilitates seamless collaboration by allowing real-time document editing, approval, and management.
- It offers customizable templates for auto-populating firm information and client data, eliminating redundant data entry.
- Occasional issues with the Gmail add-on for saving correspondence.
- Limited customer service options, lacking immediate phone support.
NetDocuments is a cloud-based document management system that offers a comprehensive suite of features for managing documents, collaborating with others, and securing sensitive data. It provides universal access to documents from any internet-connected device, including mobile devices, and integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook. NetDocuments eliminates the need for on-premise hardware and software, reducing costs and simplifying document management.
The pricing of the software is not available on their website. You also have to request a personalized demo.
Features: Cloud-based document management, advanced security, document organization and retrieval, seamless integration, and robust collaboration.
- Improved productivity and time-saving through streamlined document management.
- Enhanced collaboration and teamwork with seamless document sharing and tracking.
- Increased security and compliance with robust data protection measures.
- Reduced costs by eliminating on-premise hardware and software.
- User-friendly interface and intuitive navigation for easy adoption.
- Potential difficulties with browser settings affecting browser support.
- Lack of a streamlined rollout process for smaller organizations.
ProLaw is a cloud-based legal practice management solution designed for mid-size firms, government offices, and corporate organizations. It seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, and Outlook, to streamline legal operations and enhance productivity. ProLaw offers comprehensive features for case and matter management, client and contact management, risk management, financial management, and document management.
The pricing for this software is also not available on the website. You can request a free demo to get a personalized consultation.
Features: Comprehensive case and matter management, client and contact management, risk and compliance management, document assembly, and time and expense management.
- Streamlined legal operations with centralized information flow.
- Enhanced efficiency through seamless integration with Microsoft Office.
- Improved risk management and compliance with built-in tools.
- Increased productivity with efficient time and expense tracking.
- Enhanced collaboration and communication among legal professionals.
- Limited customization options for some users.
- Some users reported occasional performance issues.
SmartVault is a cloud-based document management tool designed for businesses of various industries, including accounting, financial, retail and franchise, construction, and manufacturing. It offers a secure and centralized repository for storing, organizing, and sharing documents, enabling collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. SmartVault complies with various statutory guidelines to ensure data protection and regulatory compliance.
The pricing for this software begins at $25 per user per month, with an annual billing cycle. It requires a minimum of 5 users. The price increases to $65 per user per month for a minimum of 2 users. While there is no free trial available, you can request a demo to explore the software and its features.
Features: White-labeling, folder organization, workflow automation, built-in e-signatures, and third-party integration.
- SmartVault offers a cost-effective business solution, making it an ideal choice for tax practices and other client work.
- The software provides a secure portal on the user's website, which can help attract new clients and instill confidence in document storage and sharing.
- The security features of SmartVault are highly regarded, ensuring sensitive documents are stored and shared securely.
- Streamlined document organization and retrieval.
- Increased efficiency through automation of document workflows.
- High pricing compared to some competitors.
- Occasional issues with customer support response time.
LexWorkplace is a cloud-based document management system designed specifically for law firms. It offers a comprehensive suite of features for creating, editing, signing, and tracking documents and efficiently organizing and searching through them. LexWorkplace also includes tools for managing incoming emails, setting up automatic responses, and converting PDFs into editable Word documents.
There is a free version that provides legal-centric cloud storage along with additional features. For those seeking more advanced functionalities, there are two paid plans to choose from. The Core plan is priced at $395 per month, while the Advanced plan is available at $595 per month.
Features: Email management, sharing & collaboration, PDF conversion, version control, and data security.
- Enables users to access their documents and data from anywhere with an internet connection, providing flexibility and convenience.
- Users appreciate the stability of LexWorkplace, experiencing virtually no downtime, which contributes to uninterrupted workflow.
- Intuitive interface and ease of use, allowing users to create Word documents directly in folders, save them to the same folder without switching screens, and navigate effortlessly.
- Enhanced collaboration and teamwork on documents.
- Enhanced security and compliance with industry regulations.
- Inability to directly save new documents into LexWorkplace.
- Limited customization options for sorting documents.
Revver (formerly eFileCabinet) is a cloud-based document management solution designed to help businesses reduce paper dependency and streamline document-related processes. It offers features for storing and organizing documents, quick search and retrieval, collaboration, automation of business processes, and security and compliance management. The pricing is not available on the website. You need to contact their team for information.
Features: Document storage and organization, collaboration and workflow, data security, compliance, and cloud-based access.
- Improved efficiency by reducing time spent searching for documents.
- Enhanced collaboration and teamwork on document-related tasks.
- Increased productivity through automation of repetitive processes.
- Reduced costs associated with paper usage and physical storage.
- Peace of mind with secure document storage and compliance adherence.
- Occasional performance issues were reported by some users.
- Limited customization options for document organization.
How to Choose the Right Legal Document Management System for Your Law Firm
Finding the right document management system means streamlining your firm's operations, boosting productivity, and ensuring the security of your valuable legal assets. However, there are so many options available and it might be difficult to find the right one. Let's go through some things to keep in mind when you're picking one.
Legal document management systems (LDMS) can vary significantly in price, so it's important to set a budget before you pay or subscribe. Some LDMSs are available for a flat fee, while others charge per user or document. There are also cloud-based LDMSs that charge a monthly or annual subscription fee. Look for transparency in pricing to avoid any unexpected expenses down the line. Remember, while it's important to consider your budget, also consider the long-term value and return on investment the system can provide.
— Adoption Difficulties
When selecting a Legal Document Management System (LDMS), it's crucial to address the challenge of user adoption. Assess the system's ease of integration into existing workflows and evaluate its user-friendliness and learning curve. Opt for providers that offer comprehensive training resources to support your staff during implementation. Furthermore, consider the system's compatibility with your current software and tools, aiming for seamless integration to enhance efficiency and minimize workflow disruption.
— Workflow Changes
You need to consider the impact of the legal document management system on your workflows. Prioritize systems with streamlined document capture and organization, automated indexing, customizable tags, and robust search capabilities to save time and ease file retrieval.
Evaluate collaboration features such as real-time document editing, commenting, and version control to enhance teamwork and ensure up-to-date information. Look for mobility and remote access options like mobile apps or web-based access to improve productivity and responsiveness.
Security should be the top priority for any law firm. Opt for data encryption to protect sensitive client information from unauthorized access. Select a system with granular access controls, allowing you to define user roles and permissions. Look for comprehensive audit trails to track user actions and document modifications. Ensure the system complies with relevant industry standards and research the vendor's reputation for security measures, certifications, and customer reviews.
Must-Have Features of a Good Document Management Software for Lawyers
A good document management system should allow for:
- Efficient organization: With the vast amount of legal documents lawyers handle, it's crucial to have a system that organizes and categorizes documents effectively. Legal document management software enables lawyers to create a centralized repository where documents can be stored, organized into folders, and tagged for easy retrieval.
- Quick and accurate search: Finding specific documents or information within a large document collection can be time-consuming and challenging. Legal document management software offers robust search capabilities, allowing lawyers to search documents by keywords, metadata, or even content. This feature saves valuable time and ensures accurate retrieval of relevant documents.
- Version control and collaboration: Lawyers often collaborate on documents with colleagues, clients, or other parties. Legal document management software facilitates version control, allowing multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously. It tracks changes, ensures everyone is working with the latest version, and enables seamless collaboration.
- Document security and confidentiality: Lawyers handle sensitive and confidential information, making data security a top priority. Legal document management software provides advanced security features, such as access controls, encryption, and user permissions. This ensures that only authorized individuals can access and modify confidential documents, safeguarding client information.
- Compliance and legal hold: Legal professionals must comply with various regulations and legal requirements. Document management software offers features to help lawyers meet compliance obligations, such as retention policies, legal hold capabilities, and audit trails. These features ensure that documents are retained or disposed of according to legal guidelines and can facilitate e-discovery processes if needed.
- Streamlined workflows: Legal document management software automates repetitive tasks and workflows, enabling lawyers to focus on higher-value work. It can automate document assembly, generate templates, streamline approval processes, and facilitate document sharing with clients or external parties. This automation increases efficiency and productivity.
- Mobility and remote access: Lawyers often work outside the office, meeting clients or attending court proceedings. Legal document management software with mobile access allows lawyers to access, review, and collaborate on documents from anywhere using smartphones, tablets, or laptops. This flexibility enhances productivity and responsiveness.
- Document retention and archiving: Legal document management software provides functionalities for document retention and archiving. Lawyers can set retention policies, ensuring that documents are retained for the required duration and disposed of when no longer needed. Archiving features maintain an organized and accessible archive of historical documents.
Why Lawyers Need Legal Document Management Software
Imagine having all your legal documents stored in a single, secure location, easily accessible with just a few clicks. No more digging through stacks of paper or scrolling through endless folders on your computer. The software does the heavy lifting for you, ensuring efficiency and accuracy in your legal research. But it doesn't stop there. Here are a few more reasons why you need a legal document management system.
Legal document management software provides robust security measures to protect sensitive client information. It offers access controls, encryption, and user permissions to ensure that only authorized individuals can access confidential documents, safeguard client privacy, and comply with data protection regulations.
Law firms deal with a growing volume of documents over time. Legal document management software allows for scalable storage and organization, accommodating the increasing document needs of a firm without the limitations of physical space. It can handle large document repositories efficiently, ensuring seamless growth and easy document management.
— Constant Access
Lawyers often need to access documents remotely, whether they're working from home, traveling, or in court. Legal document management software provides cloud-based access, allowing lawyers to retrieve, review, and collaborate on documents from anywhere with an internet connection. This constant access enables flexibility and enhances productivity.
— Lower IT Costs
Implementing and maintaining a physical document storage infrastructure can be costly for law firms. Legal document management software eliminates the need for physical storage, reducing expenses related to physical space, paper, ink, and the maintenance of filing systems. It also minimizes IT costs by outsourcing infrastructure management to the software provider.
— Workflow Streamlining
Legal document management software streamlines document-related workflows, saving time and improving efficiency. It automates repetitive tasks like document assembly, template creation, and approval processes. It also facilitates collaboration among lawyers and support staff, allowing multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously, track changes, and manage versions efficiently.
To Sum Things Up
Everything on the list of the best document management software mentioned in this guide offers essential features such as document organization, advanced search capabilities, collaboration tools, security measures, and integration capabilities. Law firms can streamline their processes, enhance collaboration, improve efficiency, and ensure compliance with the right document management software.
To further grow your law firm and its digital presence, consider partnering with a specialized agency like Grow Law Firm. We provide tailored digital marketing solutions to help your firm reach its acquisition and revenue goals. Contact us today to get more information!