Productivity pressures: How some firms are examining their approach to document search and drafting

Posted on 03-19-2015 by
Tags: productivity , Latest Headlines & Stories

As the legal industry demands greater efficiency, business pressures—including the trend toward legal project management— call for firms to save time while producing documents that are best suited for client and organizational needs.

With those objectives in mind, many have found a way to search indexed internal documents together with authoritative and vetted external search resources in a single step to gain more relevant information. This approach helps practitioners to:

  • Make the most of model documents—no need to start every document from scratch
  • Draft litigation and transactional documents more efficiently with sound quality control—including convenient case validation and branded style
  • Get new associates up to speed more quickly with access to model documents, comprehensive resources and convenient search tools

This LexisNexis® Whitepaper is designed to help you examine your approach and explore ways to increase efficiency in both litigation and transactional document search.

Finding your most relevant internal documents

Why spend time reinventing the wheel when you need to draft a document? Files in your document management system can serve as resources and models for new work. These briefs, pleadings, motions, forms, wills, trusts, agreements, deal documents, etc., have already done their job and may just need updating and straightforward edits—work you can do manually or with document automation software.

If relevant documents in your system are hard to find, it may be because authors haven’t added the metadata (e.g., author, date, document type) needed for searchers to easily find those documents. If that’s the case, modern classification tools can perform analysis to help you overcome that issue and gain optimal results.

Expanding your insight and reducing risk: Include external resources

In addition to searching your internal documents, you can also search cases, codes, legal news, analysis/treatises, forms—and even documents like briefs, motions and pleadings—via today’s comprehensive legal research subscriptions, along with vetted legal content on the open Web. And advanced tools enable you to do all of this in a single search. For example:

Expand your insight:

  • If you’re writing a brief, you can look for similar examples created within your firm, as well as external examples to inform your approach. For instance, you may choose to search LexisNexis® Briefs, Pleadings & Motions as well as vetted sources on the open Web using the Lexis Advance® solution.
  • If you are writing an agreement or other transactional document, you can search treatises and forms using a subscription service like Lexis Advance.

Reduce risk: In your external online searching, turn to vetted open-Web sources you can trust along with comprehensive, authoritative tools and resources to avoid missing important results.

  • Consider using tools that vet legal resources on the open Web to reduce irrelevant or unreliable search hits.
  • To reduce your chance of missing something important, use a search tool that doesn’t arbitrarily cut off search results at a set number.
  • Filter results based on your particular need and maintain control of your research.

Choosing your knowledge management approach

Search-engine specific

Some commercial knowledge management tools use a proprietary search engine that may have powerful features but is not fully scalable for growing practices and large document sets (e.g., millions of documents).

Search-engine agnostic or neutral

Large firms may have 25 to 40 million documents from past cases and matters. Search tools that are flexible enough to leverage your existing enterprise search engine can help you search those large data sets effectively. You can also enhance your content with contextual research links and legal validation tools.

Determining the document classification and search features you need

Whether you are searching for documents pertaining to civil practice or transactional law, it pays to choose document management and search tools that make the most of your resources—that is, your document collection, your money and your time. Here are just a few features to consider for optimal efficiency.

1. True enterprise capability: If needed, consider a solution that can scale to the limits of your enterprise search engine and support millions of documents per server.

2. Automated categorization: Browse and filter using automated categorization of legal topics, subjects, industries, etc.

3. Convenient filtering and navigation: Filter and navigate your internal content based on citations (case law, statutes, and more), as well as attorneys, judges, law firms, commercial organizations, etc.

4. Integrated case validation: For example, view real-time Shepard’s Signal™ indicators and retrieve Shepard’s® reports in a click.

5. Quick access to related content: Easily retrieve related internal and external content referencing a citation or recognized entity.

6. Clause recognition and indexing: Identify and index clauses so transactional attorneys can search for them—either in the context of a document or in a collection of clauses.

7. Defined terms: Within any contract you view, there is a list of defined terms. If your search tool recognizes defined terms, you can search for them. This is especially valuable for attorneys building transactional documents.

 8. Classification for search: When professionals in your practice save a file in your document management system, they can add information about the file (e.g., author, date, type) to categorize the document. If they don’t take that step, you won’t have the “metadata” needed to search for the document. To remedy that situation, the right analytic tools can accurately classify the documents for you. And an analytics database with clear document rules built in can organize your information for full-text search and filtering.

 9. Expert witness database: You may want the ability to automatically identify expert witnesses in your internal documents and link to additional sources of information about those individuals from established databases and analysis tools.

Calculating your return on investment

We’ve talked about efficiency and relevance—but what about cost?

Different solutions offer their own approaches to determining return on investment. For example, Lexis® Search Advantage has a free, automated productivity calculator demonstrating the productivity gains you can expect with combined internal and external searching and validation, as well as the value those gains represent.

You can take a look at the Lexis® Search Advantage Productivity Calculator tool online. Check it out now >>


Making an informed decision

Here are a few resources to help you gain insight on document management, knowledge management and legal drafting:

  1. The Law Technology Today article “When to Consider Document Management,” by Pegeen Turner, offers helpful guidance.
  2. Law Library Journal recently published “Law Firm Knowledge Management: A Selected Annotated Bibliography,” by Andrew M. Winston, offering a variety of references.
  3. You can become a member and search the archives of The TechnoLawyer Community. If you search for “document management,” you’ll find tips on document naming, plus document management, document assembly and legal research product reviews.
  4. Search the ALM® publication Law Technology News® for “document management” or “legal research.”
  5. Review this introduction to knowledge management for law firms: http://www.slideshare.net/conniecrosby/law-firm-knowledge-management-an introduction-13192279
  6. Read “A Patent Drafting Checklist” on IPWatchdog.com, by Joseph Root, author of Rules of Patent Drafting: Guidelines from Federal Circuit Case Law, at http://www.lexisnexis.com/lextalk/practice-insights/f/13/t/1170.aspx
  7. Get information on Lexis® for Microsoft Office®: Using Clauses & Contracts; Samples & Forms: http://www.lexisnexis.com/lextalk/mastery-support/f/4/t/ 1296.aspx

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