In the 2020s, it is difficult to ignore that the way we work is changing for most office-based roles. The traditional 9-5 clocking in and out of the office has ceased, with hybrid working now forming an accepted part of most professional industries, and the legal industry is no exception. To that end, law firms are finding that the challenge has shifted away from that of the pandemic, where there was a rush for tools to ensure access, to instead be a more calculated decision around tools that minimise disruption from a multi-location practice and maximise productivity.
This is something that is unlikely to be reversed wholesale, either. In a 2022 legal trends report, over a third of those who planned to leave their job at their law firm expressed that a better work-life balance was a key reason. In fact, 49% of lawyers preferred working at home, and 45% preferred meeting clients virtually. Clients also prefer to meet their lawyers remotely, 35% compared to 28% preferring an in-office meeting.
One of the primary challenges faced by law firms transitioning to hybrid work is maintaining the security and accessibility of sensitive client files. Traditionally, paper-based filing systems and physical office locations provided a sense of control and security. However, with teams dispersed, firms need to adopt technology solutions that enable secure and efficient remote access to critical documents. These systems must prioritise data protection, compliance, and confidentiality to safeguard client information.
Streamlining document management from any location
Implementing a robust document management system can revolutionise the way law firms operate in a hybrid working environment. A legal-specific document management system has a dedicated cloud-based platform that facilitates secure collaboration, document sharing, and remote access to files. Here are some key benefits:
• Enhanced security and governance: a robust document management system can leverage advanced encryption protocols, multi-factor authentication, and granular access controls to ensure that confidential client information always remains protected and is also seen and actioned by those with the correct permissions. The system offers comprehensive security features, including secure client portals and audit trails, that align with regulatory compliance specifically tailored to the legal sector.
• Seamless collaboration: With document management, legal professionals can collaborate seamlessly, irrespective of their physical location. The platform allows multiple team members to work on the same document simultaneously, eliminating version control issues and improving overall efficiency. Real-time notifications and commenting features facilitate smooth communication and collaboration among team members, as well as clients and third parties, for when documents need to be read or signed.
• Remote accessibility: a cloud-based DMS enables easy and secure access to files from any device with an internet connection. Whether working from home, on the go, or in the office, lawyers can retrieve, review, and update files effortlessly. This flexibility improves productivity and responsiveness to client needs, regardless of physical location.
• Reduced dependency on paper-based filing: By transitioning to a document management system, law firms can significantly reduce their reliance on paper-based filing systems. Digitising files not only saves physical storage space but also improves organisation, searchability, and accessibility. Lawyers can quickly retrieve documents, streamline workflows, and reduce administrative and office-space overheads.
While the death of the office may not be imminent, the legal industry is witnessing a significant transformation in how work is conducted. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of hybrid working practices, fuelled by the desire for flexibility and evolving client expectations. To meet these demands, law firms must prioritise secure remote access to files and implement innovative technologies. By doing so, firms can streamline workflows, enhance security, and remove the constraints of paper-based filing systems. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, embracing these changes will help law firms stay ahead of the curve and deliver exceptional service in the digital age.