More law firms are recognizing the gains to be had by investing in a document management system. Document management enables firms to electronically store, retrieve, manage, and deliver business documents. But not all document management systems are created equally. In this post, I’ll review one of the newer entrants to the marketplace, MetaJure, a product that takes a completely different approach to document management when compared to standard systems.
The lawyers and staff in most law firms share a common problem: successfully searching for important information and sharing documents. Attorneys, paralegals, and secretaries all create documents and receive email that is important to the firm. Email often includes legal advice, which means it needs to be accessible. Locating and sharing all of that information can be difficult. And documents that are saved on a local PC, or maybe just placed there temporarily, can turn up missing if the original author isn’t available.
While document management systems offer a solution, they require that attorneys and staff receive extra training to learn a new organizational paradigm and new software. We know that this may not be for everyone, since attorneys do not always want to change their current structure or workflow to implement new software. So if a firm wants a different way to find and share documents, without forcing everyone to use the same structure, what can they do?
MetaJure is an innovative way to share and search for documents. It allows its users to save documents without learning a new structure. How? MetaJure crawls throughout the folder tree, either on a local PC or a network share, looking for documents to index. These results then become public to those who have been granted the permission to view them within the firm’s network. This eliminates the need for manual profiling, data conversions, or migrations during a new install. At the individual level of the program, each user can select folders on his/her local PC to index and share or exclude, without altering your personal workflow. The ability to choose or exclude folders in a tree extends directly to your Outlook folder tree as well.
A brief test run of MetaJure reveals it to be a powerful product that is very simple to use. The user interface is clean, intuitive and not unlike a very popular internet search engine. Minimal training is required. The search results are quick and filterable by important categories like date ranges, document extensions, and users. The returned results also have a pane to let you preview the document. While MetaJure is not feature-rich with customization, workflows or other DMS tools, this is not a hindrance. Its power lies in its simplicity.
Below are a few sample searches:
A minor distinction: this is not a traditional document management system. A standard document management system actually manages the structure of the folder tree, while wrapping the document in metadata during the saving process to provide users more searchable options. MetaJure instead automatically records the existing folder structures that you and your colleagues intuitively create, as well as the ‘native’ metadata to better inform the search. MetaJure’s objective was to deliver a product that provides powerful searching abilities without interfering with existing workflow or folder structure. In this, MetaJure has accomplished their goal. I mention this to set proper expectations and point out that MetaJure provides an alternative to standard document management.
If you have practice management and a document management system, MetaJure may still be a solution for you. MetaJure can crawl and index both practice management and document management databases and return results from both. It provides one place to search for everything, or a way to find documents from those people who are always doing things off the grid.