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The Guide to Legal Email Management

By:
The NetDocuments Team
Posted On:
Feb 4, 2022

Living in your inbox? You’re not alone.

It’s safe to say many legal professionals can identify with that feeling. And it’s no surprise: Your email inbox is the front line of communication with clients and colleagues — the place you go to send and receive updates that move matters and projects forward.

But here’s the problem: Email software often gets used for a lot more than sending and receiving email, such as storing, organizing, and searching for emails and attachments, as well as scheduling and managing task lists.

While some firms might seemingly be able to get away with using an inbox as an extension of their document management and practice management software, this can result in long-term inefficiencies, risk, and additional costs associated with not having the right technologies in place.

Here’s where a strong legal email management system comes in to save the day!

Why Legal Email Management is Important

In the legal profession, an email is more than just a message. It’s also a critical component of client matter management or project file.

That’s why email management is typically considered a subset of document management — because one of the most important tools a lawyer or legal professional needs is the ability to file email communications in a secure repository with other associated documents.

(Sure, there are some scrappy solutions, manual processes, and other workarounds that can do the job in a pinch. But it’s not the same as true email management.)

What is legal email management? A legal email management system (EMS) is a type of software that integrates with your existing email client — such as Microsoft Outlook or Gmail — and adds in powerful, legal-specific apps and tools that make your inbox a hub of efficiency. What’s most important is that a legal EMS helps you store email conversations with clients and other stakeholders efficiently, accurately, and securely. We’ll show you how.

Why Decentralization is Problematic

Before we dive into the benefits of using a legal EMS, let’s look at where standard inboxes fall short for law firms and corporate legal departments.

One of the biggest challenges with relying on your inbox alone is how it segregates and decentralizes information among your team. Instead of having one place where all team members can go to catch up on the latest conversations, case notes, filing notices, and documents, you’ve got information spread across your practice management system, document management system (DMS), individual team members’ inboxes, local drives… and who knows where else.

Not only is this horribly inefficient for everyone involved, it also greatly increases the risk of errors, duplicate work, miscommunication, and non-compliance. Not to mention the issues that arise when a teammate leaves with important content existing solely in their email. This is yet another problem with the Great Resignation that is occurring.

On the other hand, a legal EMS makes it easier for your team to work efficiently, accurately, and compliantly. Here are four major ways a legal EMS can boost productivity across your organization:

1. House Your Documents and Emails in One Place

Whether a colleague is trying to catch up on the latest updates to a matter or general counsel is checking on the status of a project, it’s easier for everyone involved if everything is stored in one place.

Adding a legal EMS to your legal technology stack allows you to create a single system of record with all files in a centralized place — your DMS. This ensures you have one specific place where all project- or matter-related files belong, whether they’re email conversations, documents, pleadings, case notes, client intake, scanned images, or audio or video files.

The result? Everyone can easily find what they need when they need it. That means less time wasted tracking down people and documents, fewer errors, less duplicated effort, and a single source of truth everyone can trust.

2. Access Anywhere — Without Compromising on Security

Working remotely can be a challenge, especially if your home office or mobile device doesn’t support your usual workflows, or you must use a clunky virtual private network (VPN) connection to access work files.

A legal EMS like ndMail can solve many of these challenges. That’s because you can use the same document and email management capabilities anywhere you can access your email service — even when you’re offline. Even better: there’s no VPN required.

As such, your team can stay productive whether they’re in the office, working from home, or on the go — no matter what device they're using in their workday. They don’t have to give up their preferred workflows, and they won’t be tempted to find workarounds that expose your organization to risk.

3. Streamlined Email Storage, Automated Archiving

One of the primary goals of a legal EMS is to make email filing effortless — and even automatic. (After all, the easier it is for users to file emails, the more likely they are to actually do it.)

There are many ways to accomplish this. For example, ndMail uses AI to make smart communication and document filing recommendations. This enables lawyers to simply spot-check the filling location, rather than thinking through the location themselves and manually filing the communication and attachments into the document management system. All it takes is one click to confirm the filing location.

Additional EMS features can help users follow up, automatically file replies and avoid duplicate filings — all of which help your team save time, focus, and energy.

Depending on your organization’s retention policies, you can also automate and streamline the process of archiving or deleting matter or project files, including any stored email conversations that meet your specified criteria. You don’t have to dig through and identify every individual file and message; it’s simple and painless.

4. Saving Time on Administrative Tasks = More Time for Billable Work

When you bill by the hour, every extra minute spent on non-billable work is a hit to your bottom line. That’s why effective time management is so essential for lawyers and legal professionals.

But even for in-house counsel who aren’t billing clients, time-consuming administrative tasks (like filing new emails) can take time away from more impactful projects and responsibilities.

Fortunately, legal email management solutions can help reduce the time your team has to spend storing, sharing, and organizing important emails and attachments. All of that work happens quickly, accurately, and even automatically.

And instead of getting stymied trying to find a long-lost conversation from the depths of your email folders, you can keep your momentum going — whether that’s billing more hours or pushing forward an important company initiative. You can take control of your inbox instead of letting your inbox control you.

Explore the Possibilities of Legal Email Management

When it comes to managing email for your legal practice or team, the benefits of a robust legal EMS are clear — and these are just the tip of the iceberg. A legal EMS can also help protect your organization from risk, deliver big cost savings, improve profitability, speed up the onboarding process, and much more.

But choosing the right legal EMS for your team can be a daunting task.

That’s why we created the Definitive Guide to Email Management — for legal departments, large law firms, and government agencies.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • More about how an effective EMS helps increase organization and productivity
  • How to identify and evaluate critical EMS features like scalability and cloud services
  • Keys to a successful EMS implementation so you can maximize user adoption — and your return on investment

Download your copy of the Definitive Guide to Email Management for legal departments, large law firms, and government agencies today and explore what’s possible with a true legal email management system.

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