Let’s face it, one of the most time-consuming parts of a lawyer’s job these days doesn’t even involve practicing law: it’s having to compare files. This process has become part of daily life for legal professionals around the world; however, it is still inefficient and tedious. The pressure on lawyers to reduce billable time, but get the same amount of work done, means that something has to give. We’ve put together a list of some of the best ways to save time on document comparison, and hope that these will help you.
Tip 1: Stop juggling multiple document versions
Exchanging contracts with other parties often involves multiple versions being shared via multiple emails. It is often the case that people end up with several edited versions of a contract, and are unsure of which is the most recent. Lawyers must do what they can to stay on top of the versions circulating around a deal so that they can avoid comparing multiple files against each other. Having a system to keep track of which document is most recent is the best way to avoid confusion and save time during the contract review process. In addition, a solid Document Management System (DMS) is now essential for your company to track, store, and manage your documents - no matter how many versions you have. The trick is finding a way to integrate the DMS with word processing tools, which would help make your workflow much more efficient.
Tip 2: Don’t always trust Track Changes
Of course, when you compare files, you want to do it in the most accurate way possible. Even the smallest mistake can make a difference to a major proposal and lead to problems for your clients. Unfortunately, Word doesn’t always help you avoid these problems, as it doesn’t track all parts of your document. Changes made in tables, headers and footnotes are only some of the things that aren’t tracked in Word, so you must make sure you check these parts of your documents or else you run the risk of sharing the wrong information with your clients.
Tip 3: Remember, you’re only human
Sometimes, no matter how many times you look at a document, there are still some errors you miss. It’s best to make sure you have a clear process of checks and balances when comparing documents. For example, limiting who can and cannot make edits to a contract is a good way of managing version control. Furthermore, having a clear idea of individual roles in the reviewing process will save you time in the long run, as it will help stop people wasting time doing the same tasks.
Tip 4: Don’t forget to watch out for metadata
When tracking changes in Word, you add the risk of having sensitive metadata hidden in your documents. The track changes function may not keep out information that you didn’t intend to share with other parties. To avoid this, you’ll need software that helps you strip your documents of unwanted information that hides within your track changes.
Tip 5: Ultimately, it’s about finding the right software
With so many issues to juggle when comparing files, sometimes it’s best to turn to document comparison software for help. A tool that integrates document comparison and metadata removal with your DMS and email is essential for being able to save time on your day-to-day admin tasks.
To read more about how to compare documents in a quick and easy way, download ‘Document Comparison: A Lawyer’s Guide to Avoiding the Pitfalls’.