MCC : No not Marylebone Cricket Club, Matter Centric Collaboration!
A Matter Centric Document Management System or MCC (apparently the other ‘C’ is for collaboration, who knew!) isn’t it all a bit old hat? I see the ILTA competitions still and wonder who isn’t doing MCC now?
I think maybe this is a US v UK thing? Maybe having using Legal IT for longer and in particular Document Management Systems (DMS) the US have lived in a profile driven DMS world for a long time and thus “searching” is more the norm, whereas in the UK we came to the DMS party late and are more tuned to browsing through folders. Therefore maybe for this side of the pond the concept of MCC made sense and we adopted it like ducks to water?
Either way though a few conversations and emails recently made me think that maybe some best practice is worth revisiting as the volumes of documents on matters increase.
To start with its worth stating something I’ve said before, Simplicity Rules! If you’re moving to MCC then I strongly suggest you start simple, there will be enough challenges to get lawyers to file documents and emails without making a hugely complex structure for them (nor is it worth getting bogged down in endless meetings to try and reach a decision on such a complex structure! What will suit Litigation will annoy Corporate etc)
But, it is worth planning in a degree of flexibility. We started with 4 or 5 “top level folders” and restricted the creation of additional top level folders to “Matter Administrators”, these were a small number of admins within the business who could control the folder structures for their depts. matters. Thus we aimed to keep a level of control and consistency. Other approaches I have seen have been to allow a specific set of additional folders to be added to matters, ie to open up the creation process to a wider audience but restrict what can be created.
When coming up with your short list think retrieval, make it obvious where things are. Correspondence, Bills etc. These can each be tagged with meta data in most DMS and so the documents placed in them will inherit this information making searching easier. The tricky issue is the Miscellaneous folder or Other documents, there are pros and cons to this which I’ll leave to you all to discuss in the comments!
To me though, documents is easy. We’ve tied a lot of our filing into the template system now. So if you create a letter it will automatically try and file this to the Correspondence folder for you. The tricky part is email!
How do you file these? Technically they are correspondence, but combining into a single document/email folder will unleash a whole heap of trouble. Just don’t! So a separate email folder is the best option, but then some matters can have thousands of emails and if you’re a “browser” this can be a nightmare. This is where you probably want to think about some best practice rather than create a default structure. You could get people to create sub folders by date, fee earner etc
Overall though MCC is not just about the folder design, care needs to be taken in training and instilling best practice. Also you won’t get it right first time, you’ll look back a few years later and wish you’d done things differently. But then it’s worth diving in as you’ll only learn this through observing and getting feedback from real world use!