An article by Law Technology Today says it best about paperless law offices: “Not only is it here to stay, it will be the norm for all practices. In short, there’s no escaping the need to turn your office paperless.”
While the paperless office used to be more of a lofty dream than an actual possibility, technological advances have turned the concept into a reality for many firms. Capabilities like digital scanning, cloud technology, and e-signatures provide a way to reduce the cost and storage space associated with paper and printing. As a result, more and more law offices are taking the leap from paper to digital.
Paperless Office Benefits
Switching to a paperless office doesn’t happen overnight, but the benefits are worth the time investment. Reducing the amount of paper involved in running a practice cuts down on not just the cost associated with purchasing paper, but also its storage and the clutter it causes. While there is still the need to retain certain documents in paper form, the days of overflowing file cabinets and banker boxes are gone with digital storage.
Another benefit that may be less obvious from the conversion to paperless is increased collaboration. Rather than having multiple versions of a document floating around in emails and on paper, the documents are stored in a shared digital environment, usually in the cloud. This gives your team the ability to access and make edits to files no matter where they are, whether its home, on the road or at the courthouse.
Making It a Reality
The very first step to ensuring a smooth transition as you make the change to paperless is to plan. Spend as much time as needed in this phase of the switch thinking about your current processes and what will need to be done to convert to paperless. Lay out the anticipated high-level procedure changes and what equipment and technology you’ll need.
Once you have a general plan, you can dive into detail on how the technology workflow will need to be adjusted. Decide how documents will be made digital, how they’ll be stored and how you’re going to back up all the data. In this phase, the implementation of a cloud-based legal-specific practice management software like CosmoLex can be especially effective in addressing many of the changes you’ll need to make all with one system, such as data, email, and note storage.
The last piece will be figuring out what the staff will need to do differently and how to get them on board with the change. Everyone will need to buy into the new system to make it a success. This phase will require you to detail how documents will be made digital and how the case workflow will be handled.
Each of these phases has several critical items that must be addressed to turn your firm into a lean, paperless office. The effort put into the change is well worth keeping your firm competitive, the inexpensive document storage, reduced costs, and improved collaboration.
Ready to successfully go paperless? Download our complete guide The Lawyer’s Guide to Creating a Paperless Law Office to bring your firm into today’s digital age!