Interest in Paperless Law Firm Capabilities Picking Up

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Paperless Law Office TechnologyRecent studies show that law firms are more and more embracing technology as the key differentiator in a competitive market…

… for the paperless law firm storing files digitally is less expensive, more convenient, and more eco-friendly than printing and stacking boxes of paper files (“Should Your Business Center Go Paperless?”   OfficingToday, 2.3.12).*


See also – Law Firm Cloud Computing Gaining Popularity

From a feature story in San Diego Metro

It’s what’s missing that managing partner William Simon Jr. thinks sets his paperless legal office apart from others in the local legal community: paper. Sure, there are Post-It notes and mail and business cards. But what you won’t find at San Diego Law Firm are boxes and boxes of legal case files. There are no filing cabinets to store files new or old. There are no paper trays on the desks.

Said Simon: “In the old days, you would misplace files. You know, ‘Who has the Jones file?’ You’re walking around, everyone’s looking, and you’re interrupting everybody else who’s working. If it doesn’t turn up within an hour, you have everybody looking for it. Turns out someone called in sick that day and it’s on their desk. Now, finding a misplaced file is as simple as doing a keyword search.”

Law firms are required to keep closed case files for at least five years. Simon’s law firm used to keep all its old paper files in a big storage room. “As we were growing, we used to imagine that room getting bigger and bigger to the point that maybe one day our storage would be bigger than our actual office,” Simon said. By creating electronic versions of those files, more floor space was freed up. “That was really enlightening to see that one big room go down to nothing,” he said.

More from ESENEM BLOG – 

If you’re thinking you are too busy to take your law firm paperless, or worse yet—that you have too much paper to embrace the paperless law office, think again. Firms that have converted to paperless are reporting significant rewards.

1. More Money.

“If I had to guess, I believe this conversion saves each of our attorneys several hours a week just in staying organized,” says Nicholas Griffen (“How One Law Firm Transitioned to a Paperless System”, 2.11.12). “This alone is definitely worth the cost!”

If time savings don’t equal dollars in your mind, consider a paralegal’s billable hourly rate of $100, and that saving one hour per day searching through paper files represents a yearly cost benefit of $26,000. If an attorney’s billable hourly rate is $250, saving 30 minutes per day will yield a cost benefit of $32,500. Multiply that by five paralegals and ten attorneys, and the firm’s yearly savings could total $455,000. Now think about the additional cost savings associated with paper storage, reams of paper, ink and toner cartridges, copying machines, mailing costs, etc.

2. Enhanced Public Image.

By reducing paper in their offices, paperless law offices are enhancing their reputations by positioning themselves as “green” firms. Clients know these savings will trickle down to them. Plus, their clients benefit from the ease of signing and transmitting documents electronically. “There also is no doubt that digital files are more secure than paper,” says Eric Johnson, Sales & Marketing Manager of Black’s Copy Services, Inc., a document scanning and copying company that has served the South Florida legal community for 43 years. “Paper can be filed away in cabinets but digital files and data can be backed up at a remote location, saved, and protected—critical safety measures protecting against theft, fire, flood, mildew, dust, silverfish—we have seen it all!”

3. More Wins.

Many paperless law firms report that going paperless has helped their win rate immeasurably. “If you could prepare for disclosures, motions, discoveries, and trials in a fraction of the time, wouldn’t it stand to reason you would have an edge in the courtroom?” says Johnson. “Really the sky’s the limit on how going paperless can enhance productivity and increase revenue for law offices.”


Sarah Gardiner

All stories by: Sarah Gardiner