If the days of paper files in legal offices are entirely over, their days are definitely numbered. Most state and federal courts have already transitioned to paperless systems in complex cases, and it may not be long before even simple divorces and other uncontested cases are handled entirely online.
Law offices do not need to keep up with these changes. Rather, law offices need to stay ahead of these changes. It is very difficult for law firms to play catch-up in the IT game and remain competitive in other areas. This kind of proactive thinking eliminates the need for costly rebuilds or constant shopping for new office organization systems. What features should your office’s case management software include?
The duty to protect confidential information is not limited to oral conversations, in most cases. Typically, attorneys have a duty to safeguard any client or case-related information, including:
- Bank records,
- Fact statements,
- Expert reports, and
- Property inspection reports.
Federal laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, may come into play as well.
At a minimum, all data should be password protected and encrypted. Also, be wary of case management providers that outsource security to third parties, because even if a vendor drops the ball, the responsibility usually resides with the lawyer.
Sometimes, security and accessibility are at odds with one another. Multiple security layers and single-terminal access provide almost ironclad security, but your employees must be able to access and use this information. Otherwise, there is no point in collecting the data in the first place.
It’s possible to have a system that meets both these objectives. For example, a double password is not much of an obstacle for everyday users to overcome, and it’s usually also possible to block access if the user tries to use a new device and does not properly authenticate it.
Personnel policies are important in this area as well, especially if your office allows employees to work remotely and bring their own devices to work. Have clear policies about items like ZIP drives and unsecured Wi-Fi connections, apply the same rules to everybody, and enforce them both fairly and quickly.
Expansion is part of the five or ten-year plan in pretty much all organizations. Alas, layoffs and cutbacks are often a fact of life as well. Your system should be able to handle either expansion or contraction. It should be robust and, if possible, free of licensing and other restrictions which can impede movement in either direction. The system should also work seamlessly with other IT legal systems, such as Bankruptcy Pro or Summation.
A scalable, secure, and accessible software system is good for everyone. Firm administrators will pull their hair out if the system is not sufficiently scalable, clients will go elsewhere if they do not feel that their data is secure, and workers will go elsewhere if the system is difficult to use. So, a good choice here helps ensure prosperity for your office or division for years to come.