Making the transition to a paperless office is becoming increasingly common for law firms around the country. The ability to access a document in a matter of moments is one of the many reasons people find going paperless so appealing. There is no doubting the long term benefits of this transition make the process worthwhile, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Benefits to a Law Firm of Going Paperless
- Greater Efficiency: Transitioning to a paperless office paves the way for a more efficient use of your company’s time and resources. Traditionally, law offices generate a great deal of paper which must be filed and organized accordingly. Valuable time is often wasted in the process of filing and searching for documents tucked away amongst stacks of paper. Electronic filing systems organize documents according to your preferences. Beyond making documents easier to find when needed, electronic filing systems allow you greater flexibility as documents may be accessed anytime, anywhere.
- Cost Effectiveness: There are many costs associated with the process of filing hardcopies that can be reduced in a paperless office. A 100% paperless office saves money by eliminating the need for printing supplies, mailing supplies, filing cabinets, folders, and storage space.
- The Environment: According to the EPA, on average a U.S. office worker prints 10,000 pages each year. A paperless office is more environmentally friendly than the traditional office, as less paper and printing supplies are wasted. As you can now sign a document using an electronic signature, the need for hard copies is decreasing.
Developing a Plan for a Law Firm
Transitioning to a paperless office is a process, so developing a plan is essential to staying organized.
- Select a date, some months away, after which all documents received will be scanned and electronically filed, and commit to it. Most firms find it unnecessary to scan documents generated prior. The months building up to the big day are important, as they give employees the chance to gradually adjust to the change. Although it is likely that many employees will ultimately prefer working with an electronic filing system, time should be accounted for training and acclimation. Depending on the size of your office, some suggest hiring a third party to train employees.
- Consider the technicalities, such as what type of equipment will work best for your office, and what type of back-up system you would like to use.
- Making this transition gives your office the opportunity to become extremely organized. To ensure that everyone is on the same page, develop a general protocol that will be followed in scanning and saving documents.