How to Implement a Document Management System in the Cloud

You’ve decided to move your law firm to a cloud-based document management system.

There is no looking back from here. Very few law firms on the planet ever regret waving goodbye to the racks of filing cabinets or the outdated in-house digital system they have.

But how do you go about implementing a cloud-based system that meets all of your firms document and email management needs?

Here’s what you need to know.…

  • Organize documents by cases or client-matters
  • Organize documents by chronology, topic, practice area, document type, or keywords
  • Store templates to make the creation of new case documents more automated
  • Apply “metadata” tags to documents to allow easy search and location of info
  • Apply full-text search of documents
  • Control versions of legal documents
  • Restrict access to authorized users only and protect confidential information
  • Retrieve, share and collaborate on documents from any location on any device (e.g. from a mobile device while in court)

You will need a process for converting existing paper documents into digital files.

Generally, they will need to be scanned and converted to digital (PDF or JPEG) format, which can be time-consuming but is unavoidable.

When documents are uploaded to the cloud-based system you choose, they will go to a centralized location that approved users can all access.

To make the location and retrieval of documents easy, you will need a tagging system that applies metadata to each document and allows you to search for these keywords.

Classify your documents and organize them by logical categories so that they are not all lumped together.

For the general integrity of the system, an electronic signature may also be required to guarantee the authorship and authenticity of each document.

Access controls and privileges can be set up to allow authorized legal teams temporary or permanent access to retrieve or edit the relevant documentation quickly and easily.

Control and traceability of user actions are important and this can be managed by granting special access rights to specific documents/folders/categories or certain workflow processes.

Users simply need to sign in with passwords and (if necessary) security questions or other controls to access and collaborate on documents in shared folders. Legal teams, clients, and other professional parties may be granted access.

The final document can be easily emailed to clients or shared internally.

If a document has been modified, how do you know if you have the latest version?

Inbuilt version control measures (“version history”) and naming protocols ensure that you always have the latest version, avoiding confusion, wasted time, and potentially costly errors.

  • Its name and code: you need naming protocols for all documents of this type so that everybody follows the same system.
  • Identification: how will users understand the status of documents? You may be able to color-code them to make visual identification easier or will they know simply from the naming system?
  • Access: decide on the internal and external users who will require access to these documents and set up permissions and controls accordingly.
  • Search: consider the metadata protocols you use so that your people can search for and locate documents easily.
  • Templates: which documents/forms, etc. can be filed as templates so that new documents of the same kind can be created automatically and edited easily as required.
  • Communication: decide how you want your documents to be collaborated on, shared and how people are notified of changes – how will the system interact with your email system?
  • Digital signature and version control: these document management techniques can be useful for protecting the integrity of documents.
  • Are you going to enable comments and reminders for all collaborators on documents?

    Will this be a manual or automatic process?

    Most people are familiar with searching online but do they know how to find what they need in your system?

    About the Author: Dennis Dimka
    Dennis Dimka is the CEO and founder of Uptime Legal Systems, North America's leading provider of technology, cloud and marketing services to law firms. Under Dennis’ leadership, Uptime Legal has grown organically and through acquisitions to become the nationally-recognized legal technology company it is today. Uptime Legal continues to innovate and disrupt the legal technology space, and has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private for the past six consecutive years. Dennis was also an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

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