Law Firm Gains Unexpected Benefits From Mac OS X Document Management System.
The Walters Firm

Law Firm Gains Unexpected Benefits From Mac OS X Document Management System.

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Texas law firm finds efficiency and “prelitigation dynamite” using DocMoto document management for Mac.

Increasing law office efficiency was the “most unexpected” benefit for Texas firm, The Walters Firm, after opting to use DocMoto to support its document management for Mac.

But the Austin-based business founded by managing attorney, Brian Walters, has enjoyed a variety of advantages after deploying the software.

With the firm, comprising eight attorneys and several staff, undergoing a period of rapid growth, the need to manage document access, storage and content revision has become increasingly important.

For example, its corporate and business transaction practice area involves handling large volumes of email messages along with making multiple changes to documents before final versions are agreed upon. Equally, having many documents going back and forth between firm and client is common in real estate transactions. In all practice areas, the ability to work on files remotely and create an audit of different document versions is also essential.

Adopting Mac for the firm was a decision Brian Walters made after working for a large law firm in Austin, where its document management system – though useful – was dogged by system crashes, archaic design flaws, and the threat of viruses. He ultimately switched to Mac for its ease of use and higher level of security: “We're working with documents of a highly sensitive nature and that requires the highest standards of care,” he says.

While initially using a network drive to store electronic documents, there were drawbacks using this approach in an office with numerous computers and attorneys. Inevitably, this led to many separate versions of the same documents on the system.

Brian says: “We simply had to save files over and over again. Of course, we had the choice to lose the previous version of a file, but that's dangerous for a law firm as you need to be able to show the different iterations of a document during the drafting process, which is why using a file name with different version numbers in brackets is insufficient.

“I had known this for a long time and have seen what happens when a transaction 'goes south': a firm has to be able to look back at documents and understand who worked on those documents. Without an auditing system, you can't determine how or why changes to a given document were made.”

Discovering DocMoto through a blog post on The Mac Lawyer, the decision to select the software was, according to Brian, “pretty easy”.

Dropping between 80,000 and 120,000 of the firm's documents into the DocMoto system stored on the firm's local drive, Brian was reassured it was the right choice after working for several weeks with the software, creating files and running tests.

“DocMoto is the right programme for us because of its versioning, search and templating functions. The interface is fantastic, especially as it helps both new and experienced users of Mac.

“Being able to drag and drop files is excellent and the template manager is invaluable; we have folders relevant for every part of the firm so we don't need to waste time searching for templates any more. From a staff and attorney efficiency standpoint it has changed the way our firm practises and this was the most unexpected benefit of DocMoto.”

But DocMoto's effectiveness was demonstrated also in the heat of conducting a pre-litigation mediation meeting with the opposing party in a case.

At the “discovery” phase of litigation, each side is obliged to disclose relevant documentation and agree on whether the case should go to trial or not. Brian had identified that the opposing client was making an inaccurate statement and was able to prove it by retrieving instantly the relevant documentation on his computer, thanks to DocMoto's search capability and speed.

“That has been one of my favourite experiences using DocMoto – so powerful and yet so simple, ” Brian said.

And how had the rest of The Walters Firm team responded to the new document management approach?

“The other attorneys and staff got used to it very quickly. Of course, they had questions when we moved to it, and there was a lot of pressure on me to show how it would benefit us. I showed them how it worked but spent, probably, no more than 15-20 minutes with each person – that's pretty much unheard of when working with a new piece of software.” Working across three office locations, The Walters Firm has set up a remote server log-in so that everyone accesses the same files on the same system.

“What also helps is that the DocMoto team's service has been fantastic: when I had a problem they stuck with it and coached me through, speaking in plain English rather than tech-speak.”

Brian is now considering also using the DocMoto Hosted solution – based on “Cloud” technology – for giving clients remote access to documents.

“One of the most common requests from clients is 'can you send me some documents'. Using DocMoto and the cloud we could have a person's documents stored in an encrypted file and give them a log-in to allow them to have the documents at their fingertips.

“This would be another efficient time-saver for our staff. For a law firm, saving time is essential – we are selling our time, skill and expertise, and every minute matters.”

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