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With the overwhelming majority of law firms already using document management software, most are already familiar with the basic functions and benefits of DM systems. But DM products can do more than just the basics. Here are some of the more significant new offerings in document management. 1. INTEGRATION WITH E-MAIL Many attorneys now spend more time using e-mail systems than word processing software. To improve ease-of-use, vendors have added integration tools to help users find, save and manage documents from within their e-mail application. Although the two systems still remain separate at the server level, users can focus on a single application to access client and internal communication. Using a single interface to access both e-mail and documents also reduces training, making document management more usable to attorneys who live in their e-mail. While secretarial and word processing staff don’t typically use e-mail as extensively as attorneys, they also will benefit from the elimination of one more application to learn and manage. 2. COLLABORATION CAPABILITIES One of the compelling reasons to install a DMS is to make it easier for multiple people to find and revise the same document. Before DM systems, there was no effective way to manage the revisions made by multiple users. Although centralizing documents and limiting edits to one user at a time did simplify the process of managing document revision, it introduced another problem. It didn’t allow attorneys to collaborate effectively. Many parties are involved in editing documents as they go from draft to final work product. For example, let’s say associate Sam Smith creates an initial draft by copying a document which had been used in a similar situation and changes the key details. Then Smith e-mails the document to partner Susan Jones, who prints the document and gives it to her secretary with handwritten notes. While associate Smith continues to edit the original document, partner Jones sends the revised version from her secretary to co-counsel Jill Doe and John Woe, who return the document in PDF format with additional comments. The end result: a set of three or more versions of the document in different systems and different formats. Collaboration functionality addresses these issues with a Web-based interface and an integrated security model that provides access control for internal and external users. In addition, automated notification tools can send e-mail to participants when documents are added or changed, keeping the group aware of the status of changing information. 3. DOCUMENT RETENTION CONTROLS The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, aka “Sox,” was signed into law in July of 2002, establishing specific standards for retention and destruction of key financial documents for public companies. Although this legislation does not directly apply to law firms, it has brought the issue of document retention — especially electronic document retention — into the limelight. DM systems help firms enforce document retention policies and help administrators report on, and optionally delete, documents that meet a specified age based on criteria such as document type. The specific details of implementing these new improvements in document management vary by product, but all three major software programs — Hummingbird DM, iManage and Worldox — provide e-mail integration, collaboration tools and document retention controls. In addition to recently introduced products from companies such as Elite Encompass, ProLaw and NetDocuments, the document management market continues to offer more functions that meet the growing needs of the legal community. Devin Moberg is managing director of New York-based Kraft Kennedy & Lesser Inc. E-mail: [email protected]. Web: www.kkl.com.

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