Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped many legal practices choose the right document management software so they can digitize files and improve document security.

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PracticePanther Legal SoftwareFrontRunners 2021

PracticePanther Legal Software is a legal management solution for small to large practices specializing in areas including bankruptcy, personal injury, family, divorce, estate planning, litigation, criminal law and many more. The ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 102 recommendations

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ClioFrontRunners 2021

Clio is a web-based legal practice management system designed to meet the needs of small to mid-sized law firms. It provides a way to track goals and deadlines, manage cases and documents, and track time.... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 84 recommendations

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CosmoLexFrontRunners 2021

CosmoLex is a cloud-based legal management solution that offers features including time tracking, billing, trust accounting, task and document management. The solution connects all modules so that users do not have to enter i... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 46 recommendations

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MyCaseFrontRunners 2021

MyCase is a cloud-based legal management solution that helps attorneys in small size law firms to manage communications with their clients and carry out daily business operations. The solution also provides functionalities for acc... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 42 recommendations

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TimeSolv Legal Billing

TimeSolv is a cloud-based legal time tracking and billing solution that caters to law firms, accountants, consultants, architects, and freelancers, helping them manage daily business operations. TimeSolv integrates project ma... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 20 recommendations

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Amicus Attorney

Amicus Attorney is a legal case management software solution to help you manage your growing law practice. Access every case detail in a single, intuitive solution. Automatically capture client and case information, track billable... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations

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Tabs3FrontRunners 2021

Tabs3 Software offers practice management, case management and financials for small to midsize firms in any practice area. Tabs3 enables legal professionals to manage their schedule and matters as well as track their time and bill... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations

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SmokeballFrontRunners 2021

Smokeball is a complete cloud-based legal productivity software to automatically record time for you, allowing you to increase your firm’s profitability and productivity by over 30%. Whether you bill hourly, fixed fee, or on conti... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

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SmartAdvocateFrontRunners 2021

Conceptualized by a partner at a personal injury law firm, SmartAdvocate is a legal management platform that offers flexible deployment options and a modular suite of applications. In addition to case management, attorneys a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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Rocket Matter

Rocket Matter is a cloud-based legal billing and management solution designed to cater small and midsize law practices. It features time and billing management, calendar, document management, payments and collaboration management ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Litify

Litify is the all-in-one, next-generation legal software solution. Designed for medium to large-scale law firms, Litify enables every team member to do their best work. Our robust legal software combines intakes, matter mana... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Logikcull

Today, data is no longer information, but noise. In fact, 97% of all data that gets swept up in disputes and investigations is completely irrelevant. And that noise is making discovery an expensive, complex, and insecure nightmare... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Legal Files

For government agencies, corporations, universities and insurance companies, Legal Files legal case & matter management software centrally organizes your contacts, documents, emails, deadlines and other data. Rely on our seamless ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Process Street

Process Street is a cloud-based business process management (BPM) solution that enables organizations to create workflow automations. The solution is used in business functions such as customer onboarding, employee onboarding, hel... Read more

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AbacusLawFrontRunners 2021

AbacusLaw is case automation software designed explicitly for law firms. The system works as a complete practice management solution that helps in managing workflows including time tracking, billing, and accounting operations. Aba... Read more

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PDFelement

PDFelement is a contract management solution that helps businesses in finance, real estate, education, hospitality and other industries create, convert, edit and sign PDF documents. It enables team members to review, comment and h... Read more

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NextpointFrontRunners 2021

Nextpoint is a cloud-based eDiscovery platform that enables legal organizations to review documents, find information, filter data and streamline legal documentation. The solution creates a central repository to search and review ... Read more

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ServeManager

ServeManager is a cloud-based legal case management solution that enables process servers and law firms to streamline operations related to electronic signatures, job routing, invoicing, client collaboration and more. Professional... Read more

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Filevine

Filevine is a top-rated cloud-based case management solution for small and midsize legal firms and legal professionals. It helps in managing case documents, communication and project management. Key features include bill and exp... Read more

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LEAPFrontRunners 2021

LEAP is a cloud practice management software for small law firms, providing case management, time recording, billing, document automation, and trust accounting, across all your devices for one license fee. LEAP also provides tho... Read more

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Buyers guide

 

Law firms face unique document management challenges. Largest among them: the very high quantity of paper documents legal practices use. Legal documents are also subject to varying confidentiality and privacy regulations, which mandate how these documents can be accessed, stored, changed and distributed.

Within the broad genre of content management software (CMS) is a category that addresses the specific challenges law firms face: legal document management software. To help your law firm better understand this software and make a more informed purchase decision, we'll cover the following:

What is legal document management software?

It is a form of document management software made specifically for lawyers, law firms, or any entity operating in the field of law. It is distinct from legal practice management software, which has a broader set of functionality, including tools to keep the firm's internal processes and external filings on time and on track.

Legal document management software is intended to help firms achieve a variety of goals. Speaking broadly, these goals include:

  • Increasing productivity by making documents easier to find, search, access, and share.
  • Improving the security and confidentiality of important documents by preventing unauthorized access.
  • Adding consistency to internal and external documents by managing all of them through a common platform.

Common functionality of legal document management software

To achieve the above-listed goals, software products will include some or all of the following features and tools:

Document capture tools Scan paper documents and convert them into digital files, including image files, PDFs, and text files.
PDF tools PDF is the file format of choice for most legal document management systems: PDF tools help create, edit, manage, and add signatures to such files.
Advanced search Helps users find documents quickly by looking for specific text strings within documents and by filtering with metadata.
Access control Controls who can access, change, and distribute digital documents. Keeps logs of access activities and summarizes them in reports.
Organizational tools Automates the documentation and management of cases, including approvals, role permissions, and other necessary steps.
Version control Ensures that changes to documents do not delete older versions, preserving them in case they need to be used again.
Integration tools Incorporate document management functionalities directly into other software tools, such as email clients, CRM systems, and court filing systems.

Some specialized software may also include, or integrate with, electronic signature functionality, which facilitates the legally-binding signing of documents on computers or mobile devices.

Key considerations

Here are some key points to keep in mind during your search for a legal document management system:

Data security: Along with health and financial information, legal information is subject to some of the strictest regulatory oversight, and its management can be subject to local, state, and federal statutes. Protecting digital information from theft and unauthorized access should be the primary concern for law firms considering implementation of a document management system.

Legal document management platforms increase data security in a number of ways. Many make use of a centralized portal through which all access to the system is controlled. Others use two-step authentication methods to ensure that new logins have been authenticated through two different means (e.g., email, phone, or text message).

Extent of digitization: When implementing legal document management software, many law offices mistakenly believe that all existing and future paper documents will be converted to digital. This incorrect assumption can lead to problems and delays down the line.

As suggested by the American Bar Association, law offices should use document management systems to increase the number of "low paper workflows." Working toward an entirely "paperless office" can be practical in some industries, but because of the sheer volume of paper documents involved, this is an impractical goal for law firms. Instead, firms should identify which processes stand to gain the most from digitization, and began with the documents associated with those.

Pricing and purchasing options

Cloud-based products are typically sold via subscription license, meaning law firms would pay a recurring fee to use the software. Subscription licenses are commonly priced per user per month (some vendors offer discounts for annual contracts). This fee includes the cost for support, maintenance, annual updates, and hosting.

Hosting on the vendor's servers means that law firms won't incur the IT costs associated with maintaining legal files on their own internal servers. As such, cloud-based software generally is less expensive upfront, although over time the costs of on-premise and cloud-based systems may converge.

Due to data security requirements, law firms should make certain that any cloud-based system they consider offers encryption services, bank-grade security, and frequent data backups to ensure the safety and confidentiality of their clients' legal documents.

On-premise solutions are most-often sold via perpetual license, meaning law offices pay an upfront fee to own the software. Firms would also be responsible for the costs associated with maintaining client data on their own internal servers, a responsibility that would likely necessitate on-site IT staff.

Additionally, law firms can purchase document management software as a standalone, or best-of-breed solution, or as an application within a larger practice management platform. Firms purchasing a standalone system should check that the product integrates with the other software they are currently using, such as their case management solution or legal accounting system.

FrontRunners

Your Guide to Top Legal Document Management Software, August 2021

Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Legal Document Management Software products in North America.

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“Usability” includes user ratings for Functionality and Ease of Use.“Customer Satisfaction” includes user ratings for Customer Support, Likelihood to Recommend and Value for Money.Reviews analysis period: The reviews analysis period spans two years and ends on the 15th of the month prior to publication.