Lawyers Waste As Much As Six Hours a Week on Document Management Issues

Study also shows that one in four workers fail to comply with document management policies.

The speed of the legal business today is unprecedented. The pace of change, demands on lawyers’ time, and breadth of knowledge that you need to access, process and manage are reaching new levels. Technologies have promised to help, yet, traditional manual entry document management systems (DMS) are just contributing to the problem. And, some recent research is backing up what many lawyers and their administrators are experiencing and know intuitively.

First, expecting lawyers to tag and file documents into a centralized system of predetermined taxonomies is completely impractical in today’s fast-paced world. Lawyers find plenty of ways to get around required filing steps and that leads to a centralized file that’s incomplete. In fact, we’ve found that typical firms are missing almost 50% of their information. Second, while 80% of the intellectual property inside firms is communicated or stored in email (Gartner, 2014), the leading DMS solutions used by law firms today were designed in the 1980s – before the Internet and mobile computing – and do not automatically include emails as part of their document collection process or require even more manual steps to get them into a central system.

How bad is it?

Wasted time and lost productivity are significant: A robust Internet search uncovered some surprising (and depressing) data from a September 2012 IDC white paper. The report found that information workers (including lawyers and other professionals who are connected to the Internet and create, edit, review and/or approve electronic documents) spend 11.2 hours a week dealing with challenges related to document creation and management. At least six hours of this is wasted time. While the data is a few years old, the statistics remain relevant because so many law firms still deploy the more traditional DMS solutions outlined above, and half of smaller law firms in the US have yet to implement any formal DMS solution at all.

As the table below from IDC demonstrates, lawyers and paralegals lose as much as 2.3 hours a week searching, but not finding, the right documents and another 2 hours recreating documents that can’t found. All told, time wasted in document creation and management activities cost firms $9,071 per lawyer a year or a 9.8% loss in the firm’s total productivity according to the study. For a firm with 100 lawyers, that’s more than $900,000 every year.

Time wasted in document creation and management activities cost firms $9,071 per lawyer a year or a 9.8% loss in the firm’s total productivity.

Time Spent on Document Management Challenges

Hours Spent per Week % of Time Spent Hours Wasted per Week % of Time Wasted % of Organizational Productivity Lost
Pulling and compiling information for different files into one document 3.5 7.2% 0.9 1.8% 1.4%
Dealing with paper document problems 3.5 7.0% 0.9 1.7% 1.4%
Searching for, but not finding, online documents 2.3 4.9% 2.3 4.6% 3.7%
Recreating online documents because the current or right version can’t be found or got lost 2.0 4.0% 2.0 4.0% 3.2%
Total 11.2 22.7% 6.0 12.1% 9.8%

Based on data from 840 information workers in the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia and Japan. Percentages based on reported 49.5 hours of work per week. Source: IDC’s Information Worker Survey, June 2012

Non-compliance is widespread: In a more recent report, a 2015 impact study on electronic content management conducted by the Association of International Information Management Professionals (AIIM), indicates that one in four workers fail to conform with document management and retention rules. And that study doesn’t even account for lawyers who tend to be more independent than most professionals.

Mobile information isn’t accessible: Additionally, AIIM says that 81 percent of organizations report difficulty accessing information across multiple platforms, including mobile devices. Given how rapidly lawyers are going mobile according to Mobility Metrics: Are Law Firms Prepared for a Portable Future?, a study released last month by Ari Kaplan Advisors and Mobility Metrics, this statistic is particularly disturbing.

So what’s a law firm to do?

Traditional DMS is just not working, and given these numbers, it’s clear that it never has. It’s time to stop trying to apply 20th Century technologies to 21st Century problems.

Indeed, MetaJure’s next gen solution was developed by lawyers frustrated by the traditional document and email management options available to law firms and legal departments. Our next blog post will focus on how MetaJure applies the latest in search technologies to solve the issues raised by the third-party data that is highlighted here.