Worldox vs. NetDocuments vs. LegalWorks

In this post we’ll perform a side-by-side comparison of the leading document management systems used by law firms today: Worldox vs. NetDocuments vs. LegalWorks.

The base element of almost any law firm, large or small, is documents. Naturally, managing those documents becomes important to managing the workflow and case load of a law firm. Technology and software is meant to help us manage our work better–so what Legal Document Management Systems (DMS) is best suited help a law firm manage its matter documents?

Today we’ll compare what are arguably the three leading Legal Document Management Systems used by law firms today: Worldox, NetDocuments, and LegalWorks. All three are great products–but which is the best suited for your firm? In this review we’ll do a side-by-side comparison of each product on a feature-by-feature basis.

(In the interest of full disclosure: Uptime Legal provides hosting services for Worldox: Uptime’s private cloud service, Uptime Practice, is used by many law firms to host Worldox and their other software. Many of Uptime’s Authorized Partners (UAP’s) are certified consultants for Worldox and/or NetDocuments, and provide consulting services around these products. LegalWorks is an Uptime Legal product.)

Okay, lets roll up our sleeves and compare the top three Legal Document Management Systems.

– Cloud-based, On-Premise or Hosted –

Let’s start by comparing the platform for each product, as this is often a deciding factor for many law firms. Some Legal Document Management Systems are meant to be run on-premise, others are cloud based. For some quick terminology:

  • On-Premise means the software is server-based and requires a server at your location to run (which requires IT support to maintain). The client software is installed on each of your firm’s individual computers.
  • Hosted means the software is server based but can also be hosted in a third-party Private Cloud service such as Uptime Practice.
  • Cloud-based means the software is natively cloud-based, or web-based: Its run from a web browser and requires no server onsite and no software to install on your computers.

Worldox
On-Premise or Hosted

Worldox comes in two flavors: Worldox GX, their on-premise software, and Worldox Cloud, their hosted solution. Worldox can also be hosted in a third-party private cloud such as Uptime Practice.

NetDocuments
Cloud-based

NetDocuments is natively cloud-based, also referred to as web-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). That means you can access NetDocuments from a web browser or mobile device.

LegalWorks
Cloud-based

LegalWorks is natively cloud-based, also referred to as web-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). That means you can access LegalWorks from a web browser or mobile device.

– Access & Mobility –

While related to cloud vs. on-premise vs. hosted: Access and mobility are important and deserve their own mention. When we talk about access/mobility, we’re talking about the ability to access your legal DMS outside of your office as well as the ability (or lack thereof) to access your legal DMS from a variety of devices.

Worldox

Worldox deployed on-premise is inherently not accessible outside your office–to achieve this you’ll have to have an IT group setup remote access. Worldox Cloud or Worldox hosted with a Private Cloud provider is accessible from outside your firm’s office.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments, being cloud-based, is accessible from outside your office via any web browser on any device.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks is cloud-based and is accessible from anywhere, on any device including computer, Mac, smart phone or tablet.

– Data Security –

In today’s world, security matters–especially to law firms. With security breaches making news almost daily, law firms have an obligation to make the security of their matter and client data a priority. Add to that: the security and privacy requirements of third-party regulations such as HIPAA, SEC/FINRA and SOX.

Worldox

Worldox on-premise is only as secure as your law firm’s local server and IT infrastructure. Worldox hosted is only as secure as your Private Cloud provider, so make sure your provider has a secure platform.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments cloud datacenter is very secure, promising security and meeting the requirements of regulations such as HIPAA, SEC/FINRA and SOX.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks’ cloud datacenter is very secure, promising security and meeting the requirements of regulations such as HIPAA, SEC/FINRA and SOX.

– Interface –

The look and feel of your chosen DMS matters. It’s not only what you’ll be looking at all day, it has a direct impact on how easy and intuitive the software will be for you and your firm to use. (Click the thumbnail for each application to see an example.)

Worldox

The Worldox user interface, including its folder explorer, navigation and buttons: looks a bit dated. It’s a long-running DMS application that boasts a lot of functionality, but time has not been kind to the look and feel of Worldox.

NetDocuments

NetDocument’s interface is professional and sharp, albeit a bit overwhelming at times. The interface is, for the most part, easy to follow and understand.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks’ interface has a clean, minimalist look and feel to it. The interface is intuitive and shows the user exactly what they need to see without overwhelming them with details.

– Organization & Matter-Centricity –

How does the legal DMS organize documents, email and other content? Does the DMS work the way a law firm works?. How a DMS organizes your documents and email is important, as its likely a key reason your firm decided to graduate form simple folder structures in the first place.

Worldox

Worldox was made for the masses–not just law firms. As a result its way of organizing documents and other content favors a Windows-explorer style hierarchy. Pro: Its a familiar interface. Con: Its not very matter-centric.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments was also developed for industries other than law firms. NetDocuments organizes everything into “workspaces”, which you can call a matter for purposes of simulating matter-centric organization.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks was designed exclusively for law firms; as such everything is organized into matters. Each matter has three tabs to hold and manage three types of content: documents, email and notes.

– Index & Search –

Indexing and searching documents and email is likely a key reason your law firm is looking into document management. And it’s no wonder–a typical law firm will amass hundreds of thousands of documents, email and notes.

Worldox

Worldox includes full-text searching of documents, email and metadata. You can search for specific text or by tags and document profile data.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments also includes full-text searching of documents, email and metadata. You can search for specific text or by tags and document profile data.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks also includes full-text searching of documents, email, matter notes and metadata. LegalWorks includes a simple, Google-style search as well as an advanced search to find and filter documents that meet very specific criteria.

– Tagging / Profiling / Metadata –

Tagging documents is a staple of any DMS. Tagging a document, sometimes also called profiling the document, means adding tags, codes or categories to a document. For instant, you may want to tag the document type as a Motion or a Contract. Or you may want to tag the Status as Draft or Final. Or you may simply want to add internal notes or comments to a document. All of this extra data associated with the document is called metadata

Worldox

Worldox allows you to tag/profile documents when you store them in a cabinet. Tags can be applied at creation or later.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments allows you to tag/profile documents when you store them in a workspace. Tags can be applied at creation or later.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks allows you to tag/profile documents when you store them in a matter. Tags can be applied at creation or later.

– Version Management –

Another key feature that sets Legal Document Management Systems apart from simple file-and-folder systems is the ability to manage versions. That is: the DMS will keep a version of every iteration of a document so you can review, restore and compare old versions.

Worldox

Worldox allows you to store multiple versions of a document, and add comments to each version.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments allows you to store multiple versions of a document, and add comments to each version. You can also manually designate which document is the official version.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks allows you to store multiple versions of a document, and add comments to each version. You can view, restore or do a side-by-side comparison of each version against the current version.

– Integrated OCR –

If the goal of a legal DMS is to save your team time: Arguably nothing can do this more than Integrated OCR. OCR is the process of taking an image-based file, such as a scanned PDF, and converting it to a text-based PDF that can be indexed & searched within the DMS.

Worldox

Worldox does not have native OCR within the application. Instead, Worldox suggests you buy a third-party OCR tool (Symphony OCR) which it integrates with. The integration appears to be tight, but the firm still has to setup additional software.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments does not have native OCR within the application. Instead NetDocuments integrates with several third-party OCR tools that your firm can buy and implement.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks has integrated, automatic OCR. All documents stored in LegalWorks are automatically OCR’d in the background, making them indexed and search-able, without having to use separate software.

– Client Portal/Sharing –

Your DMS will (presumably) be available to your entire firm, but you may need a way to share documents with outside parties such as clients or opposing council Different DMS solutions have different ways of addressing this need.

Worldox

Worldox does not have a native client portal or file sharing mechanism; instead Worldox recommends using a third-party solution such as Citrix ShareFile to share documents with outside parties.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments has the ability to send a secure link to one file or a folder to share with outside parties. This is a handy feature to quickly and securely share documents with clients, opposing council or others.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks does not have a native client portal or file sharing mechanism; instead Uptime recommends using a third-party solution such as Citrix ShareFile or Uptime ShareSync to share documents with outside parties.

– Email Management –

To most law firms, an email is a document like any other. So it should go without saying that a good document management system should also be a good email management system. Different DMS solutions handle email management in different ways; most (inducing our three) integrate with Outlook directly.

Worldox

Worldox allows you to save emails into your DMS by opening the email and clicking a button to save it to Worldox. Worldox also includes an option for automatic email profiling.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments allows you to save emails to workspaces by opening the email and filing it, or by drag and drop. NetDocuments also includes an option for automatic email profiling.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks adds a “Matters” sidebar to your Outlook inbox, showing your firm’s matters: LegalWorks allows you to save one more many emails to a matter by dragging-and-dropping it to a matter in the sidebar.

– Microsoft Office Integration –

A Good DMS will integrate directly with the productivity you use the most, indulging Microsoft Word and Outlook.

Worldox

Worldox includes add-ins for Microsoft Word and Outlook, allowing you to save documents and emails directly to cabinets.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments includes add-ins for Microsoft Word and Outlook, allowing you to save documents and emails directly to workspaces.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks includes add-ins for Microsoft Word and Outlook, allowing you to save documents and emails directly to matters.

– Setup & Migration –

An important question to ask as you evaluate different legal DMS solutions is: How will I get all of my existing documents into the system? Every maker of Document Management Systems have different approaches to onboarding, setup and migration. Considering the onboarding and document ingestion process can make or break your transition to a DMS, this is an important factor.

Worldox

Apart from setting up an onsite server (in the case of Worldox GX4, on-premise), you must import all documents, which you can pay Worldox or an outside consultant to do for you.

NetDocuments

With NetDocuments, you can either pay an outside consultant to perform the document import or you can use NetDocument’s DIY-tools to import yourself. Note that using their tools requires a degree of technical proficiency.

LegalWorks

The document and email migration process is handled by Uptime Legal’s staff, as part of the onboarding process (which includes email migration and software training).

– Software Updates –

The software publisher will periodically make improvements and updates to the application. How will they be applied? This question underscores another fundamental difference between premise-based/server-based software and cloud-based, or web-based software. Server-based applications, even when they are hosted, must be manually updated. Though in the case of some Private Cloud hosting providers–the cloud provider will perform all software updates for you.

Worldox

Worldox software, both in an on-premise configuration and a hosted configuration, must be manually updated each time there is a new version or update. If Worldox is running in a Private Cloud, the hosting provider may perform the updates for you.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments is natively cloud-based, and updates to the product happen automatically.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks is natively cloud-based, and updates to the product happen automatically.

– Exchange Email –

Most businesses, especially law firms, use Microsoft Exchange as an email platform. Unfortunately, in our every-increasingly-cloud world, law firms today have more services provided by more service providers, which often makes technical support and overall accountability a serious challenge. Add to that: the headache of managing multiple logins for multiple services. A law firms’ technology toolbox can become a mess, quickly. For that reason, many law firms look to consolidate their technology services, vendors and accountability by obtaining multiple services from a single provider.

Worldox

Worldox does not include Exchange or any email service as part of its offering; you will need to acquire email service from a third-party provider.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments does not include Exchange or any email service as part of its offering; you will need to acquire email service from a third-party provider.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks includes hosted Exchange Email with unlimited email storage for each user in your firm.

– IT / Technology Support –

The publisher of your chosen Legal Document Management System will provide support of its product, of course. But what about the rest of your technology? Cloud solutions will help you eliminate the need for servers, but what about day-to-day support of your computers, laptops, printers, scanners and mobile devices?If your law firms is perfectly satisfied with its current IT support provider this may be a non-issue. If not, however, it may be useful to obtain your firm’s day-to-day IT support from the same company that provides your cloud-based DMS.

Worldox

Worldox does not include IT support as part of its of offering (apart from support of Worldox itself); you will need to source IT support from a third-party provider.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments does not include IT support as part of its of offering (apart from support of NetDocuments itself); you will need to source IT support from a third-party provider.

LegalWorks

LegalWorks+ is bundle of Uptime’s LegalWorks software, Exchange email plus unlimited IT support for your firm’s computers, printers, scanners and network devices.

The Verdict

There is a lot to consider when evaluating and selecting a Legal Document Management System for your law firm. Should you go cloud-based, or on-premise? What kind of access/mobility do you need? What kind of file/matter organization would your firm be best suited with? What DMS features and functions are most important to your firm? Measure twice, cut once, as the adage goes.

We hope this side-by-side comparison helped you in your evaluation process.

About the Author: Dennis Dimka
Dennis Dimka is the CEO and founder of Uptime Legal Systems, North America's leading provider of technology, cloud and marketing services to law firms. Dennis is the author of Law Practice as a Service: How and Why to Move Your Law Firm to the Cloud, and was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2016. Follow Dennis on LinkedIn.

2 comments on “Worldox vs. NetDocuments vs. LegalWorks”

  • Great article. Document management is, in fact, essential for most industries. Most ERP solutions do not have the required documentation management abilities. And, it’s best to choose document management from a company that specializes in your specific industry.

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