The Folder Conundrum

We are all familiar with the not-so-beloved folder tree. Whether it’s in Windows Explorer, Mac OS X Finder, etc. Defined as a digital plant that begins as a top-level folder sapling, possibly titled Clients or Matters. From here the sapling begins to take off in a whirlwind of growth, some branches extending much farther than others, some created by you, others created by the mysterious who-knows-who in the firm.

Folders suffer from many problems, most notably:

  1. They don’t scale. How can you efficiently navigate a folder tree that is 10+ levels deep with hundreds or thousands of clients or matters and thousands or millions of documents? Enormous amounts of time are spent navigating to what you think is the correct location only to find the document in need is not there. We call this folder proliferation.
  2. They’re prone to human error. We all make mistakes, especially if there is no technology to mitigate our sometimes mindless clicks. Whether it’s creating a duplicate folder, misfiling, or leaving a doc out of the folder tree all together. All of which create problems.
  3. They offer only basic searching. Folder trees don’t provide the enterprise level searching that allows for phrase searching, lemmatization, spell check, Boolean operators, search filters or even you own customizable metadata search fields.

The Solution? …Matter Centricity

Matter-centricity aggregates all documents and emails into a single view, allowing for quick access and ease of navigation from one matter to another, viewing documents associated to that matter and organized by document type containers. This organization is done through the process of tagging documents with information (e.g. client, matter, doc type, author). The information, also referred to as metadata, becomes the organizing engine behind the structure of the matter.

The end result is the reduction of human error through predefined pick lists, and instant access to a centralized matter view. And for you file-to-a-folder lovers out there, yes, many systems allow you to file to what looks to be a folder beneath the matter and the software will apply the metadata tags for you.

 

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Law Technology Today
Law Technology Today is the official legal technology blog from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC). Law Technology Today provides lawyers and other legal professionals with current, practical and innovative content developed by some of the leading voices on legal technology.

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