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The state of three legal document management tools

Microsoft and other document management providers have updated their software to meet the needs of the legal industry. Here's how.

Hundreds of lawyers, vendors and consultants from all over the world took to New York City last month for the Legaltech...

event, and while the highlight is traditionally eDiscovery, this year had a very different buzz.

Law firms and corporate legal departments are struggling to understand the future of legal document management. This is due to major shifts in the legal software marketplace within companies such as iManage, NetDocuments and Microsoft.

IManage

Back in July, the iManage leadership team bought the company back from HP. Now, iManage is well-positioned to serve the legal community. In fact, iManage reported it is used in nearly 3,000 organizations around the globe, most of which are either law firms or corporate legal departments.

Its products include document management, records management, universal search and an external sharing utility. Traditionally, law firms tend to be conservative and use on-premises technology. However, it will be interesting to see what iManage clients do moving forward, as it would be reasonable to believe iManage will continue to invest heavily in its cloud offering. Some sort of hybrid cloud version may be attractive, especially for law firms with heavily regulated clients and vice versa.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments' cloud-based document and email management platform continues to pick up steam in the legal market year after year. It prides itself as being a truly modern solution for the legal community.

Its offerings are completely cloud-based with a number of third party add-ons in its Marketplace. Some of these items include FileTrail for physical records management, HandShake for SharePoint, Intapp Wall Builder and Remove Disposition Manager by Revolution Software. The items in the Marketplace can be purchased a la carte.

So, out of the box, NetDocuments doesn't have quite as many features as iManage. However, it fills these gaps by means of an online partner marketplace. Lastly, it remains to be seen if not having an on-premises offering will hurt NetDocuments in the long run.

Microsoft

It's fair to say that all law firms and corporate legal departments already use Microsoft's product line for creating office documents and email. So, why not for document management? Enter SharePoint.

In most law firms and corporate legal departments, SharePoint hasn't been successful for document management because it hasn't provided "matter-centric" collaboration tools. Matter Center for Office 365 solves that problem. In fact, the open source software is free and can be downloaded through GitHub. Of course, using it isn't entirely free; law firms and corporate legal departments will need to hire a knowledgeable consultant or a Microsoft Matter Center implementation partner.

It remains to be seen how the legal document management market will shake out. Can iManage continue to innovate and remain the industry leader? Will NetDocuments continue to gain momentum and emerge as the new market leader? Will Microsoft play nice, or will they rise as a true competitor in the legal space? Hopefully, we won't have to wait until next year's Legaltech to find out.

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This was last published in April 2016

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