Most document management systems have a problem, and that problem is that they are a bother to use. Documents have to be filed in a certain way, tagged in a certain way, checked in and checked out. Sharing and collaboration often are not intuitive. And when technology is a bother to use, lawyers don’t use it. As a result, many of the documents and emails that should be in the DMS end up left out of it.

Metajure takes a very un-DMS approach to document management. It does the work for you. Rather than make the user have to file or tag or profile or do anything out of the ordinary to documents, it finds everything and makes it all available through a Google-like search interface.

In fact, Google offers a good analogy for how Metajure works. Imagine if, in order for your web pages and blog posts and LinkedIn profiles and whatever else to be searchable in Google, you had to individually tag and file every item. Most likely, you wouldn’t do it for most of your stuff and it wouldn’t be findable.

Fortunately, Google does the work for us. It goes out and finds virtually everything on the web and creates a massive index that we can search and locate results instantly. That is essentially what Metajure does. It finds all the documents and emails and other files in your firm — whether on a system server or an individual PC — and makes them available through a browser interface.

To me, Metajure seems like a cross between a DMS and an enterprise search system.  As it turns out, Metajure was first marketed as an enterprise search platform when a group of lawyers launched it in 2007, Dan Mintz, vice president of channel sales, told me during a recent demonstration. Even though the product now focuses more on DMS, many law firms use it on top of other DMS systems as a way of enhancing document collection and search, Mintz said.

Automated Document Collection

Metajure is most commonly purchased by law firms ranging in size from eight users to 200 users. It is also in use in a number of corporate legal departments. A lighter, SaaS version of the product, called MetaJure ILLUMINATE, helps firms index data that is in legacy or unique data locations.

Metajure’s automated collection means that 100 percent of a firm’s work product is available through the system. That includes work done on PCs. Metajure collects everything — documents, email and their metadata. And then once it has it, it indexes it all.

Metajure also automatically performs optical character recognition on image-only PDFs, whether they come in as scans, email attachments or from other sources. That ensures that they, too, are searchable.

Once Metajure has all this stuff, then users can retrieve it through a simple browser-search interface. Searches return a list of matching documents and folders, in order of relevance. (Results can be reordered to display newest to oldest and vice versa.) Click on a document to open a preview of it, then click Open to open it.

Items listed in search results include their file location. That gives users the choice of opening the document or browsing to its folder and exploring documents there. Search results also show when there are multiple versions or duplicates of documents and let you view those.

A left-side panel provides options for narrowing a search. Searches can be narrowed by location (such as on the firm server’s client drive or on the local PC), by file type and by date range.

Metajure can integrate with other DMS systems, such as Worldox, and it also integrates with DocuSign, so that its indexing includes documents that are located within those systems.

In addition to standard key word searching, Metajure supports search using Boolean terms and connectors. It also allows fuzzy searching to find near matches, such as when you are not certain of the spelling of a name or when the name may have been misspelled in the document.

Metajure’s search functionality also accounts for the context of content. For example, if you have a client named Aspect Corp. and conduct a search for the “aspect amendment,” the system prioritizes documents with your client’s name over other uses of the word aspect.

Users can set sharing permissions.

Firms and users have various levels of control over what gets shared and with whom. Firm administrators can set permissions on a firm-wide basis. Each lawyer controls permissions for files on his or her own PC.

Sharing options are fairly granular, allowing users to set permissions for individual files and to choose the individual users who will have access to those files.

Metajure can run either from a firm’s server or via a secure cloud site.

Mintz declined to tell me the price of Metajure.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.