Legal Document Management Software: A Complete Guide

Legal Document Management Software: A Complete Guide

The Estateably Team
October 12, 2023

Most law firms find document management a challenge. The legal industry generates substantial documentation, from court files to contracts and client correspondence. It's time-consuming to file and store all of these documents, let alone pull out individual files when needed. For small law firms and large law firms alike, dedicated legal document management software is the solution.

Whether you’re looking at upgrading your current document management software or exploring the software for the first time, here’s what you need to know.

What is Legal Document Management Software?

Legal document management software is a digital platform that helps lawyers and legal professionals store, organize, and manage their documents. More than just a filing cabinet, the software covers a comprehensive range of functionality to help legal practices run more smoothly, including:

  • Organizing documents to make them searchable
  • Converting paper documents to digital formats
  • Backing up documents
  • Managing access for improved data security

If you’re looking to upgrade from your current storage system, whether an on-premise file server or a system such as Dropbox or Google Docs, legal document management software is certainly a more tailored solution.

Main Features of Legal Document Management Software

Some key features of document management software include:

Unlimited Document Storage

While unlimited storage is far from the whole story, it’s important to consolidate your law firm’s documentation (from emails to contracts and case files) into one system. A good legal document management solution will back up all your files to keep everything secure, even if disaster strikes.

Document Capture and Digitization

The right software will help you digitize your processes to improve productivity and workflow. Document capture functionality allows you to scan paper records and convert them into digital documents with machine-encoded text that can be searched, stored, and edited.


Advanced search tools give you easy access to important documents, whether searching for contracts and court files by date or keyword or looking for emails from a particular client.


A document management tool simplifies the search process by assigning metadata to every document. By indexing every document according to user, date, or type, the software creates a user-friendly library that’s easy to navigate.

Permissions and User Access Control

Document management software helps you keep confidential documents secure by preventing unauthorized access. Not only does it control permissions to view, edit or share documents, but it also logs activity and provides an audit trail so you can keep an eye on who’s looking at what.


When you’re working on a legal document, the last thing you want is a colleague making conflicting edits and potentially wiping out your own. Checking out a document eliminates the risk of this happening.

Electronic Signatures

With digitization comes the rise of electronic signatures. Document management software allows authorized internal or external users to add e-signatures to legal documents and contracts.

Version Control

When documents undergo multiple edits, it’s important to keep track of previous versions and save them for future reference. Document management software preserves each version so you can compare documents, restore the original copy, or review changes made along the way.


In addition to managing access and permissions, document management software should provide a good level of security with features including password protection, multi-factor authentication, and encryption.

Integration Tools

The best solutions will integrate with other systems used by your law firm, such as email management software, court filing systems, and DropBox or Google Drive.

When Do You Need Legal Document Management Software?

Is it time to turn to software to help manage your legal practice’s documents? Here are some of the warning signs to look out for:

Youre Struggling With Multiple Systems

Law firms must juggle internal and external documents from disparate systems, from cloud-based storage applications to your on-premise server. A document management platform pulls everything together into one solution, saving you valuable time and maintaining consistency across all your legal documents and templates.

Your Filing System Lacks a Structure

Your current filing system might have started well, but when you’re constantly creating new files and folders, naming conventions often fall by the wayside. Dedicated legal document management systems organize and label everything in a more structured way so everyone can find the information they’re looking for.

You Need Additional Functionality

Perhaps you’ve been using a cloud-based filing system together with physical files, or maybe you already have law practice management software with document management built in. However, you might need a more comprehensive set of tools to manage your documents more efficiently. For example, does your current system allow you to search through file names, text, and metadata? Do you have the capability to add e-signatures? Can you classify and annotate your files to help you filter them later?

Choosing the Right Document Management Software

Ready to start exploring? Here are a few factors to consider:


When looking for the right software, you’ll need to decide between a cloud-based product hosted on the vendor’s server or an on-premise solution maintained on your server. The cloud has many advantages, including more flexible working (as your team can access it from anywhere) and data backup. You’ll also save on IT and server maintenance costs.


Since legal document management systems are designed to make your life easier, it’s important to ensure that your chosen solution integrates smoothly into your current systems. Does it work well with your legal practice management software, communication tools, or legal billing software, for example?


While a document management system is often sold as a standalone solution, you’ll also find more comprehensive suites of services, such as case management software with document management features. If so, does it have all the features that you need? And is there an additional cost? The last thing you want is to implement a new system only to find that it doesn’t meet your needs.

Organize Your Trust and Estate Documents With Estateably

Are you a trust and estate professional looking to transform your law firm? Estateably is a cloud-based estate and trust administration platform designed for the modern practitioner, with services including court form and accounting automation, task management, and online collaboration. Our software will store your files safely and organize them effectively so that you can work more efficiently and save time and resources.

Book a demo or get in touch today to find out how we can streamline your administration and power your practice.

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