The manila folder is a simple technology: a piece of cardstock folded in half. But it’s so useful that it has formed the basis of nearly all modern information systems. We nest folders inside other folders, creating hierarchical organizing structures to help us make sense of our information. Even when our information is digital, we use tiny folder icons to help you understand how it all fits together.
But one thing has changed. Now you have another tool to organize, filter, and find your information: tags.
Tags help you instantly bring up a list of relevant projects, documents, or notes. Where folders are hierarchical, tags are rhizomatic, spreading across your system to connect information that shares some feature. These two systems don’t compete with each other. They interrelate to open up new ways to understand your practice and find what you need.
Filevine recently released the Tag Management feature, giving you extensive control over your organization’s use of tags and opening up new ways to use your information. Here are 5 best practices to expand beyond the folder and gain the greatest benefit from your tags:
1. Standardize your tags
Tag Management now allows admin users to create a list of authorized tags for your organization to use. All users will then be able to pick from those approved tags, rather than typing in new ones from scratch. By only allowing a select few users to create new tags, your team gains an important level of control over the value of tags in Filevine.
There are two broad schools of tag use: top-down and bottom-up. Top-down systems use a controlled vocabulary, while bottom-up systems are a free-for-all (sometimes these are called ‘folksonomies’). A completely open, bottom-up system is great for social media, but legal teams benefit from greater control.
You want to filter by your tag and feel certain that you have all the relevant items—without also needing to search for synonyms or alternative spellings. With a standardized set of tags, team members don’t have to worry whether they’re typing out the tag correctly.
Of course, you can still be collaborative and bottom-up in deciding which tags will be useful for your team members. For suggestions on useful tags to include, see below.
2. Merge redundant tags
If you have two tags that mean the same thing, you’ve destroyed your ability to easily filter for what you need. In an open, bottom-up system, it’s easy to make this mistake. You’ll accidentally tag a case as #referred_out instead of #referredout, or mark a client as #important instead of #VIP.
To merge these redundant tags together, you don’t have to go in each file and adjust it to the right term. Instead, you can easily combine tags under the right term with the Tag Manager.
In the future, your team members won’t be able to accidentally create a variant tag, since only administrators can create new tags.
3. Delete unnecessary tags
When a tag is no longer useful, you should remove it from your list of active tags. You can now do this by archiving it or deleting it completely.
Archiving a tag will remove it from your organization's active tags list, meaning it can no longer be attached to new items in Filevine. However, it will preserve the areas in the platform where the tag was previously assigned. Deleting a tag will remove it from Tag Manager and will take it out of anything it was attached to.
Within the Tag Manager, you can archive and delete tags one by one, or select many to archive at once.
4. Don’t forget auto-tags
Auto-tags automatically mark cases that fit a certain criteria. You can mark all cases that are hitting over a certain monetary amount in value, or any case that’s approaching its statute of limitation. Auto-tags are an invaluable tool for lawyers, helping you make sure that nothing is slipping through the cracks.
Auto-tags remain the same with Tag Management, except that they must come from your authorized list of tags. This will ensure that you don’t have redundant auto-tags.
5. Add colors and context
For some tags, you might want to add more information to improve visual categorization and help your team stay consistent.
As an obvious example, your #redflag tag, indicating major problems, should be red. Or you can coordinate your #low, #medium, and #high tags with green, yellow, and red.
Speaking of vague terms like #low, #medium, and #high: you can also write a description for any tags within Tag Manager. This will help all members of your team understand what they’re seeing, and guide them in tagging information on their own.
Getting Started: Innovative Legal Tags
Tags are fantastic tools for any time you find yourself in these situations:
You want a quick list of a certain kind of case. With a quick search, you can bring up an important subset of cases. For instance, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, you might want a #tbi tag to let you see a list of cases dealing with traumatic brain injury issues. Any feature of a case that is important to you, you can begin tagging today.
You want to give staff an extra reminder about certain people. Tag specific clients as #VIP so all your staff members know to give them even more care and attention than usual. Tag young contacts as #minor, or mark those who have passed as #deceased, to help your staff not make painful mistakes.
You want to see other examples of a document. When drafting new documents, it’s extremely useful to be able to compare earlier examples. Rather than rifling through your files, you can see your previous motions for #summaryjudgment. Or you can mark certain documents as a #template to help guide you.
No two firms will use tags exactly the same. Consider your firm’s needs and priorities, and use tags as a tool to support your goals.
To learn more about Tag Management in Filevine and how to get started with Tags, download our updated “Suggested Tags” pdf using the button below.