Document management is dull but necessary. TechnoLawyer members have ranked document management software their favorite topic since forever. The reason is simple. If you can find the documents and email you are looking for quickly, you can get on with the business of practicing law.
Worldox has been in the business of helping lawyers manage their documents for over 25 years. This SmallLaw review encompasses both Worldox GX4, the latest release of World Software’s flagship product, and Worldox Web Mobile 2.0, which gives you secure access to Worldox.
Document Management Primer
The documents keep piling up. Every day you create and review several documents and dozens of email messages. In a law firm with 10 attorneys and support staff, your Microsoft Exchange Server can quickly resemble a kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes after a house party. No one wants to deal with it, but until someone does no one can cook anymore.
Document management is the process whereby order is brought to chaos. Profiling is the process of tagging your documents and email by client, matter, author, and document type, and saving them into a large repository. The software then uses these profiles along with a powerful full-text index to “organize” the documents in a way that enables you to quickly find and retrieve documents. In the process, the system enables everyone at the firm to know what their colleagues know, and to build a knowledge base of best practice forms that everyone in the firm can use to increase productivity.
Document Profile Automation
The process of “profiling,” like the process of dishwashing, can be made easier with automation. Worldox offers predictive tools to ease the profiling process. New in Worldox GX4, Auto-Fill recognizes a portion of a client or matter name, and fills in the corresponding number. Also new, Follow-Me Favorites remembers your most recent set of profiles so that you can reuse one without having to retype everything.
For profiling email, you can group and tag dozens of messages, and send them to Worldox with a single profile template. If you have a batch of documents attached to an email message or in a folder, you can file them by simply dragging them onto the Worldox WorkZone icon on your desktop.
Once a document is profiled, Worldox takes over, creating the appropriate Client, Matter, and Document Type hierarchy, or whatever hierarchy of files your firm wishes to use. It is wise to carefully plan your implementation to get the best results. A well designed system will produced an organized file structure that all can understand.
When it comes to retrieving documents, this “file structure” is one of the options that can be used to retrieve your documents. There is a “bread crumb trail” (e.g., Client/Matter/Document Type) that will be consistent across all your matters. Or, you can just enter the Document ID or just a portion of the file description to find any document in seconds. If you want to search across multiple matters, you can use the profile fields, as well as full text search as criteria.
Enforcing Firm-Wide Standards
Document management with Worldox works because the software can be set to force users to profile their documents. A slick software integration with Microsoft Office and other applications makes this possible. When you click “Save,” Worldox appears requesting you to complete a profile. When you click “Open,” Worldox appears showing your recent documents and matters as well as the various search tools. Creating a new version is as easy as clicking “Save As” on your document.
In Outlook, Worldox folders appear like regular Outlook folders. Once you drop a message into a folder, Worldox launches the “Profile” with most of the fields already filled in.
Getting Everything Into Worldox
If your firm has never used a document management system, the transition to Worldox can seem daunting. The planning phase can bring to the forefront family rivalries within your firm as different groups have different organizing styles. It’s best to hash these issues out before you start building your database and importing your documents.
Worldox makes it easy to define cabinets to segregate client documents from internal firm documents, and then for each cabinet to define profile variables and file structure. A best practice tip from my friend Neil Quateman, a longtime Worldox consultant, is to create a “Legacy” Read-Only cabinet and point it to your existing file structure. This allows users to find all their existing documents in Worldox by navigating the folder structure or through searching. However, when they use a document from the Legacy cabinet, they must save it into the new profile-based structure.
Security and Active Directory Integration
A true document management not only makes it “easier” to find documents, but makes it “easier” to hide the documents you don’t want everyone to see. Security can be enabled a multiple levels in Worldox. The easiest level to implement is at the Cabinet level such as filing internal firm documents in a super secure cabinet that only the management committee can see.
However, for a number of years, Worldox has offered an option to enable Active Directory Integration and a feature called the Ethical Wall. Since the documents in Worldox are visible on your server, if a user knows where the files are located, they could potentially find documents they shouldn’t see. However, with Active Directory enabled, your Worldox login is tied to your Windows login. So if you can’t see the document in Worldox, you cannot see the document in Windows.
Worldox Web Mobile 2.0
Worldox Web Mobile enables you to search for and download documents from your network onto an iPad, iPhone, Android, laptop or home PC. Viewed in this light, it’s a useful addition for those who travel frequently or work from home.
However, Worldox Web Mobile is not a “thin client” application that will work with Microsoft Office like Worldox does in your office. Instead, users must download the file to a location on their device. When finished, they must find the profile for the web portal or web app and upload it as a new version. The quick profile features and the enforcement of firm standards are lost when using the Worldox Web Mobile.
Given the extra cost, you should evaluate whether the mobility benefits are worth it for everyone. Worldox offers a rental option in which you pay only for users who actually need it.
User Experience and Integrations
I have worked with a number document management systems since I graduated from law school in 1988. Worldox certainly has a comprehensive feature set. However, I find the interface busy. It will take some period of training before new users become comfortable. Search is powerful, but there are multiple places to initiate a search, with different interfaces.
There are some useful features available through third-party add-ons, such as RightSignature (for signing), ShareFile (for secure sharing of files), Workshare (for document comparison) and Trumpet or pdfDocs (for optical character recognition). Worldox makes it easy to access these products, but you will have to add more money to your budget to enable these features.
Worldox GX4 is a solid and powerful document management platform that improves upon the prior version. Worldox Web Mobile may appeal to some users but has limited functionality in its current form. Overall, I give Worldox an A- TechnoScore.
Worldox GX4: A- (4.5/5.0)
Recovered attorney, HotDocs guru, and document assembly specialist, Seth Rowland has been building document workflow automation solutions since 1996. Prior to that he cut his teeth as a litigator at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and KramerLevin. Mr. Rowland was TechnoLawyer Consultant of the Year for his contributions in the area of legal practice management and document assembly.