Posted by Manoj Kamath
on 9 May 2018
Best Practices for Matter Centricity
Most established lawyers with long lists of clientele are thought to be front runners for making technology work better for themselves and set the benchmark for technology adoption. However, as Tri-County found in a recent study, established lawyers carry the perception that they are not equipped to make the transition from hard copy.
There are several reasons for this perception:
There is always talk about marvelous ways in which automating their age0old hard copy document management solutions will make it easy for them and their staff but fail to enumerate the steps needed to get the solution off the ground.
The solution presented, shows how effective the solution is, not how the implementation impacts current business*.
Not having a reference point to how the mid-term and indeed, how the final structure will shape out is a big sticking point.
Inventory lists and different types of documents are not always available when starting out and we have noted many instances of beginning well but losing the intended structure to a multitude of document types.
IT folks are not legal experts and we found several instances where implementations fail because IT does not necessarily have the wherewithal to predict the future state due to lack of experience and/or expertise in document management.
The way lawyers and legal firms see matters is not the standard PC / MAC OS file system based (Matters go into Files, Files go into Folders, Folders go into other Folders.)
After analyzing the above common issues, we have identified and used 11 best practices to ensure lawyers views of matters, which allow them to function optimally and let them focus on their work instead of learning the nuances of document management. Here they are:
- Limit IT involvement by automating the management of the electronic matter file at the source / point of creation.
- Allow rules in the work flow that can be modified as matters become more sophisticated or develop more complex documents.
- Allow ownership of the matter by the entities that are closest to the matter; such as, Lawyers, Paralegals, Law Assistants and Legal Clerks.
Enable each user and the team to secure each matter jointly and separately without the need to involve IT support.
- Create default folders are the creation of the matter; such as Working Drafts (documents that are being created), Correspondence (emails, scanned hard copies) and Matter Administration (bills, notes, engagement notices/letters)
- Define the permissions for each user including the ability to add folders and subfolders but keeping the overall structure simple.
- Use prefixes and suffixes to differentiate client and dates (For example, start each folder name with the last name of the client, end with the year / month suffix)
From within email client, secure emails to the matter team and ensure emails can be attached to the matter files / folders.
- Ensure that the workflow is seamless by ensuring the document management system is available to every application used and from every device, before implementation.
To prevent duplication, disable the Add to folder from the device. Instead enable the re-filing at the server end so the lawyer or the matter-in-charge can re-file.
- Allow file staging to prevent the risk of unintended deletions. Store files in 30 - 45 holding stages for deletion.
* Implementing a document management solution consists of putting in place a workflow to scan and store hard copies of existing matters using basic folder management rules but should allow users to modify these as they get bigger, better, or more sophisticated.
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About: Manoj works with the legal community in Windsor, Essex, Chatham-Kent and Sarnia to provide the best of technology innovation to boost legal productivity and lower lifetime costs, making legal eagles more profitable making the world go around even more smoothly, in Windsor-Essex.Connect via:LinkedIn