Document Management Systems for Law Firms: What Legal Professionals Should Know

How to find the best tool for organizing, tracking, and updating documents for your legal team.

Every legal team needs a fail-proof way to manage documents efficiently. After all, your clients rely on you to handle sensitive information with accuracy and precision.

In other words, you need a document management system for law firms — one that can handle security, storage, organization, controlled accessibility and audit compliance.

Read on to learn more about document management systems, why your law firm may need one, key features to look for, and a list of some of the most highly-rated solutions on the market.

Find the best document management solutions for your business with our guide, The complete guide to document management systems.

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Document management system: Law firm must-have

A document management system (DMS) is software that can securely store, organize, and help you find your documents.

A well-organized DMS will become your single source for document retrieval and organization. If you and your team find yourself shuffling through various drives and folders (“Is that brief in Google Drive? Did someone share it on Box? Is it on the S drive?”), it means you could benefit from updating your document management system.

Similarly, if you’re struggling with labeling, classifying, or annotating documents in an organized way, a DMS can help.

Big picture: The best document management software for law firms can streamline your operations and avoid embarrassing and frustrating situations around misplaced, misfiled, or mishandled documents.

Key features to look for in document management systems for law firms

Legal offices handle a vast amount of briefs, case files, contracts, agreements, motions and notices every day. The best legal document management software can store a large amount of data and easily find, amend, and annotate documents.

Let’s look at some key features you should think about when choosing document management software for lawyers.

Cloud-based vs. on-premises software

An on-premises system will need to be installed on your company’s server and can only be accessed by employees on-site. A cloud-based system stores your data on remote servers and works on the web, which means your employees can access the DMS anywhere (like a home office).

Some of the more modern document management systems for law firms run on the cloud. The cloud can be a more convenient and secure way to handle large amounts of data. It can also be less cumbersome to manage since your IT department won’t have to worry about expiring licenses, maintaining hardware or updating installations. Another advantage of cloud-based software is that it can work with any operating system, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues with Macs or Windows.

However, your law office may be more comfortable with an on-premises application because of document management legal compliance regulations, so do some research on the pros and cons of on-premises and cloud software before making your decision.

Document storage

Your DMS should be able to store your most commonly used file types (PDFs, Excel, Word) and, if you’re working with an on-premises system, handle a significant amount of documentation with backup capabilities.


If you’re considering a cloud-based system, make sure any data in the DMS is encrypted at all times (both at-rest and in-transit) and look for multi-factor authentication capabilities. These features can protect sensitive information and prevent a hacker from accessing your firm’s confidential files.

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Document organization

You’ll likely need to label, classify, or tag documents in your document management system so they’re easy to retrieve. It may be a good idea to request a demo and see first-hand what kind of tools the system offers. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to pull a document from a database only to find that it’s mislabeled and misplaced due to a confusing setup.

Onboarding and customer support

Speaking of setup, take a close look at reviews from other law firms to see how the system provider handles onboarding and support. Are other legal teams finding the transition easy? Is there an online or phone support center?

Document version control and doc ID

Having two versions of the same document, uncategorized and unlabeled, in the same database can spell disaster for a case. Simple human error combined with an inefficient document management system can have disastrous consequences. Make sure the DMS has a solid document version control tool that goes beyond dates and version numbers. To be safe, you may want to look for solutions that create a unique document ID for each file.

Search feature

The search feature of a document management system can make your day productive or exasperating. Look for a robust search feature with powerful filters that won’t fail you. Scheduling a demo and test-driving the search feature first-hand is perhaps the best way to determine if it’s powerful enough for your practice.

Integrations with other apps and email management

Look for integrations with other apps, like Microsoft Word and Outlook, so your team can have a seamless experience when creating or uploading new documents. You may also want to consider document-sharing capabilities and the ability to “check out” a document, so anyone who searches for documents knows it’s being updated with new information.

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Best document management software for law firms

These are some of the most well-reviewed legal document management software providers on the market, as well as being among the best-suited for the specific needs of a law firm.


NetDocuments is a cloud-based content management solution specifically designed for law firms. It provides a secure, reliable way to create, edit, organize, and collaborate on documents from anywhere, on any device. Reviewers consistently praise NetDocuments’ intuitive user interface, excellent customer support, and ability to automate document organization tasks.

A few cons mention issues with the document preview feature and email integration, though most reviewers say that NetDocuments’ support team is always open to feedback.


Worldox is a comprehensive document management platform for legal teams. It’s available on-premises and on the cloud. Worldox has a five-star rating for its document classification capabilities and version control.

A few reviews mention that the user interface can take some time to figure out, and others have had issues with customizing folders and labels.

In October 2022, Worldox was acquired by NetDocuments, which could lead to even more innovative features for Worldox clients down the road.


Clio is a comprehensive law practice management solution that runs on the cloud. Besides document management, Clio also offers a client intake and CRM platform, as well as billing capabilities. Clio has glowing reviews for ease of use and customer support, and a few reviewers mention that growing their practice with Clio was a seamless experience.

Some drawbacks mentioned include issues with Outlook calendar integration and limited reporting.

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX1400

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The ScanSnap iX1400 scans up to 40 double-sided pages per minute with the touch of a button. It’s an elegant and simple solution to scanning documents (even those with sticky notes), envelopes, photos, and plastic cards, making it a natural solution for busy legal teams who need to capture evidence quickly and efficiently. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of our scanners.