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Many independent lawyers and smaller law firms could benefit from not using the paper, but do not. That’s because it oppresses with the idea that this will result in a number of new tasks to their already troubled “to do lists”.
Or because, perhaps, they are not sure about how to proceed and delay the implementation of a new system of processes that could really help improve your efficiency and reduce your costs. Whatever the reason, the fact is that many law firms are not yet fully adept to the phenomenon called “paperless”.
Contrary to what many think, paperless advocacy is cheap. Most lawyers do not know, but already have digital document storage capacity, enough to store your files. Because reducing the amount of physical file, the law firm also do not have to pay an archivist or spend time paralegal – that could be focused on more important issues.
With files, scanned documents and processes, you can still store your files online in a secure and available environment, like a cloud, for example, and can access any document when and where you need it.
Consider only scan the issues that lie ahead
Do not bother to scan files of existing cases – 9 out of 10 cases will you proportional minimum difference if they are in the digital environment: in this case will only save floor space with storage. Start scanning each new case to open or take over and, within about 6 months, his office will have an organized workflow and virtually paperless. If later disputes or issues are identified already closed that are important to be saved and can help you in the future, scan them and add in a specific folder for that file type.
Adopt a good management system, whether for office or for documents
One of the hardest things to change the working model for the practice of paperless, is figuring out how to organize the electronic files. We recommend the adoption of a document management system or a robust software that covers this function. This type of adoption is very useful for law firms, especially those of medium or large that have many employees, customers, partners and suppliers.
The key to the success of a paperless routine is to create some rules that everyone involved to follow and build a pattern.
Our tips are:
- Consider creating a filing system “tree”, the closest to the paper-based systems you always used. In practice, this means: create a folder for each client, subfolders for each individual issue that you are caring for that client and other “sub-sub” for things like matches, discoveries, trivia and the like.
- The great secret is in how you name and organizes the files, documents and processes that scans. It can even reduce the need to create subfolders and form very large and complex trees. Our suggestion: Name each document with the date you or created or received (year-month-day followed by a short description of the document content). This way, your documents will always be in chronological order within the file.
- Establish a policy for scanning all incoming documents, create an effective set of file naming conventions and present organizational and technical standards of the scanned files to colleagues. You will save a lot of time and significantly reduce your frustration looking for lost documents.
Following routine paperless is easier than ever. Be aware that all are prone to failure, but commit yourself to change and covers all involved. Thus, in addition to contributing to the environment, you will make your work more productive and therefore best seen by your customers.