Written by Ana Canteli on 11 may 2018
Those who work in the law practices profession know that few sectors are so intensive in document management or are so subject to it to obtain their objectives.
Document management and enterprise content management are intimately linked to most companies regardless of their size. On the other hand, we must bear in mind that each organization is unique, and that document management software solutions are in need of redefinition and realignment, depending on the changing needs of customers and legal updates.
Law firms have identified some factors that have influenced the way they approach to document management. First of all, law firms are concerned about security in data storage and practice management. They are also interested in the control of data consumption and mobility; especially to meet the needs of the customer. In this aspect, clients focus their attention on the management of law practices or where their information is stored.
Companies also take into account the expectations of the internal client (employees), thanks to the fact that they are increasingly familiar with the programs. More and more lawyers are requesting access to the legal document management software using multiplatform facilities; that, on the other hand, they also expect to use clients to manage the contracted services and the documentation.
In addition, many companies are aware that they are using outdated document management services and that a current legal document management software solution can be the turning point to help them improve their strategy in terms of practice management, document and content management and use even for execution of the digital marketing plan, the control of social networks, the administration of web pages, etc.
Practice management and law practices cover the range of approaches and technologies used by law firms and even judged, to manage the knowledge and methodologies that have been developed within the organization. The management of legal matters also seeks a more efficient administration of the life cycle of the documentation and contents linked to each legal case or litigation. In short, legal practice seeks new technologies, particularly in legal content management programs, the response that allows them to run information management flows, documentation and processes in a personalized manner, to meet specific legal requirements and specific needs.
We must bear in mind that companies compete for customers and are continually subjected to the pressure to offer services at increasingly competitive costs; which forces them to increase their efficiency while meeting the new expectations of customers and interest groups in content management.
Legal document management involves case management, time management, collections, litigation coverage, legal research and recovery activities, communication and collaboration; security, storage, file, and accessibility.
Legal document management systems cover two primary needs: help with the use, collaboration, consolidation, management and protection of information and register all the activities carried out in the system.
The best legal content management systems offer integration facilities so that the document management solution can be used by different users, corporate legal departments and entities linked to the company, resulting in an appreciable increase in efficiency that leads to a strategic advantage for the company.
The legal document management software of OpenKM is customizable; so that the legal document management software provides a solution to the management of digital content adapted to specific segments.
For example, OpenKM Cloud is the cloud-based alternative designed for small or medium-sized organizations – including law firms and real estate -, which do not have technical staff or their server. Using OpenKM Cloud, the company can enjoy their management platform with the following advantages:
For larger organizations, OpenKM Professional may be the solution that best suits your needs. It offers the same features as the SaaS version; with the advantage that the company can have the system on its servers.
The legal cabinets of companies (public or private) also present their own needs. In general, they are not so focused on legal billing and accounting, since clients tend to be internal. However, they do emphasize traceability, real-time integration, and configuration. For these purposes, OpenKM offers audit facilities both to the end user and to the Installation Administrator. The Activity Log tab, linked to any legal content, allows you to analyze all the activities that have been carried out on the content (folder, registry, document, email - including attachments). The version control- applied through the History tab – helps to identify the contribution of each author. Also, the functionality Reports of the Legal Content Management System of OpenKM allows us to prepare reports about an event that is relevant to us.
Security management deserves special mention. In OpenKM, security is managed by layers. The first filter is the access credentials. Anyone who does not have a username and password cannot access the system. After assigning roles and profiles according to the user's position and activities, they customize the document manager and adapt them to their specific needs. Moreover, security management at the granular level allows the control of privileges (reading, editing, deletion, download, etc.) in a detailed manner.
Regarding integration, OpenKM offers SDK'S in Java, PHP and .NET, which allows companies to enjoy autonomy when integrating the legal document management system in the program suite. OpenKM does not present technical risks and can act as front-end or back-end depending on the needs or use cases that arise in the organization.
In the preparation of litigation, the tasks of e-discovery can involve the investment of large amounts of money and resources, which must be managed and minimized as much as possible. The legal content management system of OpenKM offers a search engine that allows finding any data or information based on a multitude of criteria. The user can perform searches by free text. Moreover, in advanced search you can filter results by context - section of the document manager in which the document is stored; content - any word present in the body of the file - name, title, keywords, language, author, or range of dates. You can also use criteria such as the location in the repository, the category and the type of item we are looking for (whether it is a document, a folder, a record, or an email). The user could even access legal content, thanks to the included notes. Finally, the most efficient way to perform searches is through metadata. Metadata allows adding valuable information to legal content, which can be used to perform particular searches for data.
The legal content system of OpenKM helps to centralize the repository and provides improvements in the management and organization of cases. The legal content created is managed through "legal transactions," the main project in legal content management. The legal transaction collects all the information necessary to create legal content, as annexes through the Relations tab - which serves to show all the links that legal texts develop in their life cycle.
Tasks - through OpenKM’s Task manager, can be managed and coordinate efforts of technical and human resources invested in the project. Entities, contacts, dates, etc. can be handled as metadata and attached to the project, depending on the characteristics of the same and the needs of the organization and parties involved. Users will see the indicators of their activity in the document manager highlighted, as well as the trends of use within the company. They will be able to manage their mail trays from the document manager (OpenKM offers a file module for e-mails archive).
The status of projects can evolve depending on the business scenario or specific circumstance. These elements can be used to define, how each legal transaction should be processed. The company can use the automatisms to solve each case, functionality that allows automating legal processes, delivering efficiency, increasing efficiency and productivity ratios, while reducing the incidence of human errors.
Alternatively, the company can rely on the use of the workflow engine included in the system. This engine allows you to design and create workflows so that the organization has control and access to the detail of each task that is part of a process. The workflow engine is capable of supporting the most sophisticated workflows.
The cost of storage is an increasingly important issue for law firms. In fact, the size of emails is usually larger than the legal documents themselves.
The data file is used to delete data from the database that is no longer needed in the system but must be kept in a format that can be analyzed. In this way, compliance with legal requirements is fulfilled while allowing better management of software and hardware for the company.
In OpenKM You can define the calendar of legal documents; the status, the dates that initiate automated processes, workflows that comply with the legal solutions that the organization needs, or that it offers its clients.
For example: when a legal document reaches the filing date, the document changes to blocked status (users can not edit, delete or alter the document). Only users with special privileges could change this status. That document may be related to other files. The Relationships in OpenKM functionality allows defining the type of linkage that binds them (equivalent documents, parent-child, and group relational). If desired, changing the status of a file can automatically change the status of the rest of the legal documents; or attempt to file individual legal documents, if necessary.
The legal content management system of OpenKM provides the versatility that legal services companies need to get rid of their technological legacy, migrate to the information society and offer both their employees and their clients the platform that allows them to work and use the services where, when and how they want. It satisfies the new needs regarding the consumption of information and services, adapts to the new circumstances of mobility and offers a more straightforward, more intuitive and agiler context while complying with the security requirements in the handling of legal content that satisfies the internal needs and the expectations of the client.
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