How Can You Have A Paper Trail In A Paperless Office?

Attorneys learn early on the importance of documentation. This has caused some to resist moving to cloud-based trust software for attorneys like CosmoLex because they fear that without stacks of paper they will get into trouble if audited. The fact is you don’t need paper for a paper trail.

If It Isn’t Written Down, Then It Didn’t Happen

First of all, let’s be clear about one thing: documentation is critical. This is especially true when it comes to trust account administration. Trust accounts are watched very closely by state governments, bar associations and clients because they can be subject to all kinds of shenanigans ranging from sloppy accounting to outright theft. Trust managers always have to operate as though they are going to be audited.

When someone reviews your trust account you need to be able to track not just every penny, but every penny within each matter. Comingling of funds is one of the most common sources of problems and why meticulous bookkeeping is so important. Many firms that are happy handling their own books will hire an outside bookkeeper for trust account matters just to add that extra layer of security.

If There’s No Paper, Then It Isn’t Written Down…Or Is It?

In the 1980s, as office computers became more common, courts faced the issue of the definition of a “paper trail”. Can you have a paper trail without paper? In a word, yes. As long as your law office billing program provides a paper trail — and you’ll more commonly hear the term “audit trail” because of the lack of paper — that clearly documents all of your actions then you can prove you behaved in good faith and didn’t do anything unethical.

In fact law practice management software makes is easier to provide an audit trail. You literally can’t make a transaction without leaving a record. Electronic records are easy to back up so you don’t have to worry about your precious paper trail getting destroyed because the upstairs toilet overflowed into your file room. Cloud-based legal software protects the audit trail even more effectively. Since your records are in a professionally managed datacenter rather than your office, they are less likely to be destroyed. Plus datacenters automatically back up their information, whereas office computers tend to get backed up rarely if at all.

Numerous legal precedents support the fact that electronic records are a perfectly valid and supportable audit trail. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for CosmoLex now get the security of cloud-based legal billing and trust management for only a few dollars per month.

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