The paperless law firm. A dream or goal for some law firms, a reality for others. In previous posts we’ve explored how to go paperless. In this article we’ll articulate exactly why your firm should not only go paperless: but why it should do it now.
Let’s get started.
Why You Need a Paperless Law Firm
If your law firm’s important documents (for matters closed and current) are in paper format only, in a storage room or old war room: They’re one disaster away from being lost forever. Remember Hurricane Sandy? We’ve talked to many law firms that lost a lot of records in that disaster. (Many of them became our clients later, swearing “never again” to losing important documents.)
But it’s not just the extreme risks like hurricanes you should worry about. Office fires, theft and even simply misplacing documents are all real risks, common occurrences and: easy to avoid.
Going paperless (with the right system) gives your firm security. All important documents and files are stored electronically, which means even if your entire office is wiped out: your documents are safe and secure. Better yet: If your paperless endeavors bring you to the Cloud (and they should), your data is likely stored in a highly redundant, ultra-secure data center.
2. Your Clients Expect It
Its 2017. By now your clients expect you to be paperless. They expect that you can quickly pull up that document they sent you when they started working with you. They expect that you can quickly email them a copy of a memorandum. They expect that if they catch you while you’re not at the office–you’ll have access to the same access to the same files as you would in the office.
If you’re not able to meet these expectations, your clients are likely to get the strong sense that your firm is behind the times. (And: they’d be right.)
The ability to quickly and thoroughly search documents (and email) alone makes going paperless a worthwhile endeavor. When you have a paperless law firm, you can search your firm’s entire repository and history of all documents that were ever created or saved. In an instant. Imagine being able to search your firm’s history of documents as easily as you perform a Google search.
You can’t search documents sitting in a banker’s box in a storage room. Having a paperless law firm means being able to:
- Find a specific keyword or phrase wherever it may live within your documents.
- Being able to quickly pull up all documents you’ve ever created of a certain type, such as a contract or motion.
- Being able to search across all files, scanned documents and email to find what you’re looking for.
Bonus: As a paperless law firm, your document management system should be able to search across document and emails, in one system.
4. Access Document Anywhere
The practice of law is a mobile profession. You’re in the office. You work from home. You’re in the courthouse and at client sites. You should be able to access all of your firms documents anytime, anywhere–and on any device. Going paperless gives you the potential to be able to get to, view and edit documents anywhere.
A cloud-based Document Management solution gives you and your entire firm to work anytime anywhere, which is another major benefit of having a paperless law firm.
5. Document Sharing / Centralization
Another major benefit of being a paperless law firm is the centralization of all of your firm’s internal and matter-related documents. Do you have more than one office location? Do you have any attorneys that are Of Council, or that work offsite? Having documents in paper-format only completely prohibits the ability to share or give access to members of your firm that are not working out of your main office, where the hard-copy presumably lives.
Having a paperless law firm means everything is centralized and easily shared with other members of your team.
6. Organization + Efficiency
Leveraging a Legal Document Management system to achieve a paperless law firm keeps your documents organized. Hard copy documents have a bad habit of being spread over multiple boxes and file cabinets, maybe across different storage locations. They’re also not quickly and easily retrievable, since (a) it may take considerable time to find and retrieve the document, and (b) it may be lost or misfiled.
Going paperless by implementing Document Management software is a great way to enforce organization by matter and maintain document consistency.
7. Save Money
We saved the best for last: Having a paperless law firm will absolutely, positively save your firm money, in a variety of ways.
- Saving all that wasted time looking for and retrieving hardcopy documents means less staff can do the same job, freeing up your staff for other projects and billable work.
- Physical storage costs money! Whether your law office is in midtown Manhattan or not–all those Banker’s Boxes eat up square footage in your office space.
- Costly mistakes are avoided when all of your documents are securely stored within Document Management software (and no longer subject to being destroyed, lost or misplaced).
Closing the Loop
There you have it: 7 very good reasons you should strive for a paperless law firm. Hopefully you’re finished this article with a new imperative to go paperless. If so: now that we’ve covered why to go paperless, here are some related resources on how to go paperless:
Epilogue: Finding the Right Document Management System
Finding and implementing the right Document Management software is key to achieving a paperless law office. If your firm is looking for the right Document Management System, take a look at our comparison chart, videos and other resources.