Aug 22, 2018

Transforming your law firm into a paperless environment

Have you ever lost original copies of documents due to natural disasters? Missed deadlines because files took too long to be delivered? Do you have a hard time finding records because they are misfiled? If you answered yes to any of these, transforming your firm into a paperless office will save you money and improve your clients’ experiences.

A paperless documentation solution eliminates the need for paper by moving all physical documents into a safe data respository. It’s more secure, productive, and environment-friendly than a traditional paper-filing system—especially when guided by experts in legal technology.

Here are some reasons you should transition into a paperless law firm.

  1. A paperless office saves time and energy. Documents are stored in one centralized database, allowing faster document retrieval and information delivery.
  2. Paperless applications like Worldox make data more accessible. By converting physical documents into virtual ones, data can be sent and received at the speed of a click. Users can also have remote access to data, making information readily available whenever and wherever it’s needed.
  3. It protects your data. Document management solutions don’t just prevent physical data loss from natural disasters such as floods and fires, they also protect data from security breaches, since only authorized people can access your firm’s database.
  4. It improves client servicing. A digital system ensures fast and accurate search of their purchasing and service history, allowing you to provide more personalized support.
  5. Going paperless cuts your production costs and frees up your office space. Reports claim that the average law firm spends over $1,000 per employee per year on paper—that’s $10,000 for a 10-person firm! When you go paperless, you lessen your expenditures and free up office space so you have more room for new employees or meeting areas.
  6. It’s good for the planet. Beyond cost savings and additional space benefits, paperless solutions also save the environment. When you go paperless, you do it for a greater cause.

Simply put, going paperless is not a matter of “if”, but “when.”

Transforming your law firm into a paperless environment may seem like a gargantuan task, but it’s not. Other firms have done it, and so can you.

The ultimate guide to going paperless

  1. Pinpoint the specific processes in your workflow that require the most paper. Converting all at once will be difficult, so you want to prioritize the tasks that have the biggest payoffs. For example, if you have identified that most of your paper is used for signed documents, you can introduce electronic signatures. This way, clients can authorize documents without printing them. As per Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), electronic signatures are legally binding in Canada.
  2. Set up the necessary infrastructure to transform said processes into paperless ones. This includes scanning hardware and document management software. You may need to train key persons to operate these solutions.
  3. Closely monitor paperless transitions and make sure employees are following new procedures.
  4. Start converting old paper documents. Scan them and use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) programs to convert the scanned images into recognizable and searchable text files.
  5. Deploy a Document Management System (DMS). This will serve as the nerve center of your database and enable you to index, tag, and search for documents, control file and folder permissions, and integrate OCR-related processes. Since Document Management Systems vary according to functionality, it’s best to partner with a managed IT services provider that understands your firm’s needs and can customize a solution accordingly.
  6. Migrate your legal files into the cloud. This should be handled by an IT professional specializing in cloud migrations. Work closely with the IT expert to inform them of your legal tagging system and other data management preferences.
  7. Tell your clients that you have transitioned into a paperless law firm! Inform them of the implications and benefits of this move, including how long you will keep clients’ original physical files in your firm’s archive.

Going paperless isn’t as difficult as it seems. You just need an expert to help you maximize the available benefits and minimize the growing pains.

Vertex has helped dozens of law firms in the Greater Toronto Area successfully transition into paperless offices. Contact us today and take the first step in going paperless.

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