By Caitlin Burns, DocsCorp Content Manager.
Legal software is designed to make working with documents easy, so the focus stays on the legal work and not the process. And, when it integrates with core legal applications and practice management systems, it minimizes the steps needed to get from A to B, improving productivity.
Document creation and template management
Legal software can take away much of the time and effort needed to recreate standard documents. Contracts, client care letters, legal agreements need to be personalized for each client or case. But, without access to in-house software engineers, recreating them each time takes hours.
Document creation software gives firms the ability to create document and note templates from scratch, without the need for software engineers or hours of copying and pasting. Working from corporate templates saves users’ time and guarantees consistency across different departments. Users can easily add content by answering form questions, dragging blocks onto the page, or pulling in various details from legal practice management systems.
Managing templates to ensure they’re always accurate and up to date is simple. And the new versions are deployed through the Active Directory, so teams are always working from the latest version.
PDF creation and editing
Documents form the basis of much of a lawyer’s work. So, it’s essential they have PDF creation and editing software suited to the legal industry.
PDF software designed for the legal industry can take away much of the time spent on repetitive tasks – like the application of Bates Numbering or custom numbering sets, as well as corporate stationery and watermarks. Users can quickly add an electronic signature to a PDF or request a signature from a client via integration with electronic signature services like DocuSign.
As well as creating and editing, legal software can speed up the process of collating multiple files relating to a single client, matter, or project. Users can work on related documents in a dedicated project space, and then assemble the final versions into an easy-to-distribute PDF. Or files can be output as validated PDF/As to meet court filing and archiving requirements.
Creating legal documents like Closing Books, Share Purchase Agreements, or Legal Due Diligence Reports is a much quicker process with PDF bundling software.
PDF bundling happens in three steps: create a new binder file, add documents, and convert. During the conversion process, PDF bundling software automatically generates a table of contents, hyperlinks, and bookmarks. It not only saves the user time but ensures readers can easily navigate through the collection of documents.
Users can also work from PDF binder templates with a standard cover page, table of contents, folder structure, watermarks, numbering set, and security settings. This ensures nothing gets missed or forgotten, and consistency is maintained across different teams and team members.
These templates can be saved to a firm’s server, so they’re accessible to all. Or, templates can be saved locally and tailored to individual needs.
Search and redact
Courts often require that confidential or personal information is redacted from PDFs before they are submitted. Trying to find every time a name or number appears in a large document set is challenging, and it’s easy to miss something. Pattern search technology in PDF software can help legal professionals find and redact this information much faster while minimizing the chance of getting it wrong.
Patterns can include phone numbers, credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers (and regional equivalents), email addresses, and dates.
A search will return all instances of your selected pattern, and you then have the option to redact all, or to pick and choose.
The redaction applied by these specialist PDF applications is true redaction, in the sense that it can’t be uncovered or undone since the information is permanently removed from the PDF.
Changes to contracts and other legal documents can seem minor but have a significant impact on the meaning. So, it’s important that, no matter how small, legal professionals can see every change between document versions.
Document comparison software shows the user every insertion, deletion, and move in long, complicated legal documents. Compare up to five versions of the text – whether it be a Word, PDF, Excel, PowerPoint, or scanned file.
Traditionally, document comparison software marked-up changes with redline. However, to move forward with the changes shown, the user needs to go back to the original document and apply them manually.
Today, support for Track Changes means users can quickly accept or reject the changes in a Word document as they go. As well as completing the review cycle in a fraction of the time, it ensures legal professionals can easily collaborate with their clients by using Word, rather than proprietary software.
Security breaches aren’t always intentional. Often, they are the result of human error – like sending an email to the wrong person.
Sending an email to the wrong person inside the firm can be embarrassing, but if an external email gets into the wrong hands, it could be seriously damaging to your firm’s reputation.
Email recipient checking software can prevent these kinds of unintentional breaches. It steps in and prompts the user to confirm what they are sending and who they are sending it to. It flags external or public domains as potentially risky and also asks for confirmation on Reply All and BCC actions.
From a single screen, senders can sanitize attachments of sensitive metadata, like author tracking data, embedded objects, Track Changes, or improperly redacted text. Metadata management is another layer of defense to ensure personal or confidential information isn’t unknowingly disclosed.
OCR and compression processing
Image-based files like JPEGs, TIFFs, and PNGs are added to legal practice management systems every day, without staff realizing they aren’t fully searchable.
Not being able to search a document’s pages for names, phrases, or other general information, can make locating it a time-consuming and challenging task.
When 100% of legal practice management systems’ contents are text-searchable, discovery and conflict checks become much faster and more accurate. It also helps firms ensure they are compliant with data retention and data protection regulations, such as the GDPR.
Automated OCR software can find non-searchable files and convert them to text-searchable PDFs. It can run 24/7, automating the conversion process for both new and legacy documents. And, at the same time, it can apply compression to files to help save on storage costs without affecting the quality of the original material.
With automated OCR software, managing non-searchable files becomes as simple as set-and-forget. Staff continue to upload documents into the document content repository without worrying about OCR as a process or a workflow since the software catches every file automatically.