Documents: Best Systems for Organizing - Martindale-Avvo

Documents: Best Systems for Organizing

If there’s one thing that lawyers and law firms aren’t lacking, it’s documents and paperwork. No matter what law you practice, there are always forms and paperwork to complete. The problem becomes, once the paperwork is complete, where does it go? How do you file it and store it? If you don’t have good answers to these questions and a working system in place, your paperwork can quickly become a dreadful mess.

While you can use filing cabinets, hangers, and folders, it might be time to modernize your legal practice. Not only do document management systems keep your documents organized, but they also make them easily searchable. Today there are many document management systems for lawyers and law firms alike to choose from.

What is Document Management?

Document management is how you choose to file, organize, and store your documents. A document management system is a cloud-based or on-premises software used to store documents virtually, but that’s not all. Most document management systems also include various tools that help you organize, manage, and find important documents.

While technology options exist that can help you store and share your documents, but they aren’t document management systems (DMS). For instance, the following aren’t and shouldn’t be confused with DMS:

  • OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox 
  • An on-premises file server (I.e., “The S: Drive”) 
  • Practice Management applications with basic file storage 

How Document Automation Can Help

Document automation, sometimes called document assembly, uses intelligent templates to automate your document creation process. It’s a centralized legal document process producing:

  • Agreements
  • Letters
  • Motions
  • Pleadings
  • Bills
  • Invoices
  • Additional legal documents

Generally, automation helps create a large volume of documents over a brief period while maintaining compliance and brand consistency.

In fact, legal document automation improves and optimizes the way attorneys manage their practice. It also ensures that documents are well organized, easily accessible, and secure for future use, sharing, and edits.

Choosing a Document Management System

When selecting the right law firm management software, it’s essential to ensure that the software will integrate your management tools and automated documents. For most attorneys, the ability to easily draft, share, and edit documents from a single location is the top goal. Therefore, you need a “one-stop shop” for your management and automation requirements to accomplish this goal. You don’t need to waste time toggling between multiple software when completing routine tasks, such as document origination and assembly.

A good choice in document management systems should allow you to:

  • Prepare common/routine legal documents in seconds
  • Store an unlimited amount of legal documents
  • Access your documents remotely
  • Locate the files you need quickly
  • Use electronic signatures
  • File documents directly from the source
  • Capture billable time from any document
  • Easily sync, share, and track documents 

Before shopping around for the best document management software, assess your needs, capabilities, and budget. Some DMS allow a free trial of the product so you can genuinely see if it’s going to live up to your expectations or if a different option might be better.

Top Picks for DMS


  • Rated best for streamlining the intake and document generation process
  • MS Word Add-in
  • Guided Interviews
  • White Labeling


  • Rated highly for well-priced, low-code document assembly
  • Maintains the conditional formatting functionality of MS Word
  • Ready-made forms


  • Highly rated for its security
  • Encrypted document retrieval
  • On-premises option
  • Ability to send secure requests to clients for uploading documents directly and securely


  • Optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Predictive coding
  • Automatic Bates Stamping
  • StoryBuilder® document organization tool
  • Robust analytics 


  • Runs natively on Windows and Mac
  • Full-text search documents and email
  • Outlook integration
  • No outside consultant required


  • Cross-platform productivity software
  • Best for small to medium-sized law firms and solo attorneys
  • Three-pricing tiers
  • Offers a generous trial period

Put DMS to Work for Your Law Firm

Filing, managing, and storing documents may seem routine. However, attorneys who want to advance their firm should consider the role of automating legal documents in their everyday practice. By employing the best software, law firms can save time and provide a smoother overall process for their clients. Using legal document formats and templates help ensure efficiency, accuracy, and brand consistency.

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