Document Management for the Smaller Firm

A friend raises an interesting question for the Slaw community:

Imagine that you have a ten person lawyer firm (+ support staff) that needs to move to matter-centric DM. What choices would such a firm have, other than the conventional (and somewhat pricey) legal DM vendors (i.e. OpenText and Interwoven), whose work is good but doesn’t quite scale this small.

Does anyone know whether there is a matter-centric DM based on open source or web services, keeping in mind standard law firm security and confidentiality requirements. Does anyone have any novel ideas or suggestions?


  1. 1) Software based on per-seat licensing might be the way to go?
    2) Depending on the type of practice, perhaps Case management software over full DMS?
    3) Sharepoint
    4) Open Source DMS
    5) Opendocs now has servers in Canada, which may make it more appealing.

  2. I am from Big law so I do not have much first hand experience with smaller DM systems.

    Net Documents from Lexis Nexis is very interesting.
    DMS by Saas

    A more radical approach would be to use Google Docs. You end up collapsing your DM and word processing into one system.

    The Saas approach avoids the IT overhead that is hard to manage with a small law firm. Let someone else do it for you.

  3. Forget my #5 re: Opendocs.

    I was thinking NetDocuments, which is a solution I like as well.

  4. For an Open Source solution, would you recommend Drupal? I haven’t used it myself, but like any website I have seen that uses it. Presumably it can be used in-house too.

  5. Content Management vs Document Management. Others may differ on this, but I’m not sure I see Drupal as a reliable corporate DMS solution.

    Front end of an Intranet? absolutely. DMS? A lot of questions to be answered.

  6. Ah yes, of course. I did have CMS on the brain. :-)

  7. Have you consider Alfresco? Or Knomos?

  8. Elizabeth Ellis

    I wouldn’t rule out the “big” DMS vendors before talking to them – I seem to recall hearing that their products are being used in very small firms.

  9. Check out docSTAR’s new hosted solution at It’s built on Sharepoint and incorporates the USPS electronic postmark (EPM) for security and non-repudiation. docSTAR also offers a business continuance solution known as Rebound. The price starts at $49/concurrent user and includes 1gb of storage.
    You can’t find a better solution for the price.

  10. While working for a two-lawyer firm I used Time Matters as an “all-in-one” matter/document/email management system. Although this was some time ago (I believe it was v.5 that I used), it can run on SQL Express, which is a nice, low-cost option for small firms with limited database requirements.

    Personally I think that for the smaller firm, products that incorporate some DM into a wider case management system are a better choice than a plain DM system. I know I missed the shared calendars, tasks and reminders available in TM5 when I moved back to a large firm.

    Other options on the case/matter management side of things include Primafact and the (still maturing) Masterfile. The latter runs on Lotus Notes, which makes it a quirky choice, but has some nice features, including litigation review and production which may make it an attractive choice for small litigation firms.