Archive for the 'General' Category

Benefits of Implementing a Document Management System in Law Firms

Maybe you are at the beginning of a document management project, designing the business case or projecting a likely return on investment.  If so, then this article can help you understand the many benefits of implementing such a solution.

So, what are the main reasons why law firms implement a document management system?  Cutting costs and increasing efficiencies are two key factors especially when justifying capital expenditure.  Increased control and security, improved team working and knowledge management are the other main drivers.

The benefits of successful implementations of document management are seen by lawyers, legal support staff, customers, IT staff and the law firm as a whole.  Here we have grouped these benefits into five themes:


Increased Productivity / Efficiencies (doing more law)

  • Less wasted time spending time browsing and searching for information in multiple locations (email, file systems, local drive).
  • No more wasted time retyping documents or working out which version of a document is the latest one.
  • Easier and quicker to share information with other users and groups, in different departments, across physical locations.
  • Work with documents anywhere and anytime.


Cutting Costs (saving money)

  • By centralizing document management services, it is possible to retire old file systems and simplify backups reducing server maintenance and administration costs.
  • By scanning in and promoting use of electronic case files results in multiple cost savings including savings on printers and paper, less administration, and freeing up valuable floor space previously occupied by filing cabinets.


Compliance / Control (minimizing risk)

  • Comply with legislative and regulatory requirements and help with specific processes: for example, new matter intake, conflicts of interest, e-discovery, chinese walls and matter billing.
  • Better document security: single secure central repository, rather than shared drives, local drives and email.
  • Provide detailed auditing of all document activities.


Quality of Product / Service (competitive advantage)

  • Better sharing of documents to external parties (customers, opposing counsel, third parties) through extranet portals or deal rooms.
  • Improved knowledge management leading to better informed lawyers.


Law Firms Reputation (marketing)

  • Is a matter of prestige that the firm is investing in the very best technology to manage their customers’ documents.
  • In order to attract the best lawyers, need to consider that many younger lawyers will have only worked with document management systems during their careers and will be used to the benefits that they bring.

What is Docs4Lawyers?

The Open Source Document Management System for Law Firms.

Docs4Lawyers is an out-of-the-box document management solution for small firms and a scalable and flexible platform for large firms.  It is free to download, quick to install and simple to use on a desktop computer, laptop or network server.

Docs4Lawyers has all the main document management features, is easy to use and integrates seamlessly with all desktop applications, including office and e-mail.  In addition, it incorporates a specific adaptation for use by legal professionals, like commonly-used legal metadata fields, a client and matter management module and matter-centric favourite folders.

Electronic document management is not a new concept for many law firms and by building on these well understood functional priniciples Docs4Lawyers delivers the first open source platform specifically designed for the legal market.

Objectives of Docs4Lawyers:

Provide all main features

  • generic document management services:- versioning, check-in/out, history, security, categorisation and full-text search.
  • easy to use:– intuitive web-based interface and seamless integration through the windows shared drive into any desktop applications (e.g. windows explorer, email, office, acrobat).
  • legal adaptation:- client/matter management module and folder system, legal-oriented document metadata fields, my favourite client/matters.

Reduce the complexity of implementation

  • easy to evaluate:– downloadable from http://www.docs4lawyers.com, with accompanying manuals and documentation.
  • easy to deploy:– no software installation on the end-users PC; supports Windows, Linux and Mac OS; integrates with all desktop applications.
  • easy to integrate:- supports industry standards and protocols; integrates with Microsoft desktop and other software packages (backup, time and billing, document comparison, fax, scanner, website design tools etc.).

 Reduce the cost

  • lower aquisition costs:- in the absence of expensive up front software licences, the total cost to implement the system is significantly reduced.
  • quicker return on investment:- resulting in a quicker return on investment than other traditional products.
  • lower total cost of ownership:- integrates with existing infrastructure, easy to extend, evolve, deploy and maintain.  Freedom to choose server and desktop software.

Better support and services

  • service is centrestage:– since the technology is free, suppliers are valued on the quality of their support and services.
  • open forum and collaboration:- through the community portal, members can seek assistance, share experiences and make contributions.

Welcome to Docs4Lawyers!

This project was started at the end of 2008 with the intention of taking a well established concept – document management for law firms – and creating a new pioneering solution to offer to all law firms (large, medium and small) as an alternative to the proprietary products currently offered in the market.

Many law firms will be very happy with their current products, but given the turmoil in the ECM sector over the past few years, many, we believe, will be looking for a new type of solution that is not tied into the software providers and the tight group of integrators offering such solutions.  Also, we believe that there are a great number of small and medium sized firms who wish to deploy this funcionality to their users but have been unable to do so due to the high cost and complexity involved.

We have seen at first hand the challenges faced when implementing the traditional solutions in law firms.  We have also seen in recent times the huge interest being shown in open source technology products and the tendency in the market to move towards a new model of acquiring and implementing IT solutions.  So, by combining high quality open source software with a mature and well understood requirement, we set about building a new document management system for law firms based on the principles of ease of use, ease of deployment, lower cost of implementation and total cost of ownership and above all freedom from the proprietary model of software development and licensing.

Docs4Lawyers is a solution framework built on top of the world-class document management platform from Alfresco Software.  For readers who are not familiar with Alfresco, the company was created in 2005 by the founders of Documentum, Interwoven and other companies like OpenText, Vignette and FileNet.  This domain knowledge combined with expertise from the world of open source and with the backing of an experienced management team and venture capital has provided the foundation for a very successful new player in the ECM market.  The first version of Alfresco was released in 2006 and today has achieved well over 1 million downloads and the company has approaching 1,000 subscribing customers across most market segments, and is one of the most succesful open source companies ever.

We have spent 6 months developing Docs4Lawyers and it is the first open source document management solution specifically designed for law firms.  This initial version is made available for any interested parties to download, test and use as they wish, under the commonly-used GPL licence.

Central to our philosophy is open community collaboration, and as such, we have created the Docs4Lawyers site within the OneWayClear Community Portal to enable people to get hold of useful information, share ideas, provide feedback (good or bad) and also to contribute back to the project.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be posting software updates to the site, and adding informative articles and training materials which we hope you will find useful.

For more information and to register to download the software and documention, please visit www.docs4lawyers.com.

Stay tuned!

Best Regards,
The Docs4Lawyers Team