July 23rd, 2012 by Gwynne Monahan
The paperless office. It was a Small Firm Innovation theme last September, from steps to getting started, to being a state of mind and even completely ditching paper for depositions. It seems to be a common enough topic that there should be little left to say and, instead, get to doing.
Like cloud computing discussions, this shift seems to be occurring. There is less talk of why to go paperless in favor of how, exactly, to do it.
Jared Correia of MassLOMAP addresses this question head on in his post, Scanning the Horizon: Paperless Conversion Saves Law Firms. He points out that while lawyers may draft documents and send them electronically, they still receive paper from “clients, colleagues, the courts, etc.” which begs the question: how to convert all that paper into computer bytes? His answer is simple: scan it.
That may seem obvious today, so the question becomes: now what? And this is where lawyers are increasingly sharing their experiences. For example, Rackham H. Karlsson LLC recently blogged about his paperless workflow. He uses Clio, Dropbox and a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. His post walks you through his process from receiving paper to converting it to bytes, and then working with the digital copy, including how he shares them with his clients. Karlsson also posted a handy visual of his paperless workflow:
Practical application of the paperless office.
And then there is Timothy J. Storm, another Clio user and chair of the ISBA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section Council. In On the road again: My (virtual) road to a (real) better life—Part 2, published recently in the ISBA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section newsletter, he chronicles his conversion from paper to “paperless.” While that isn’t surprising, his take is a little different since he is “trying to convert the management of an existing practice.” It’s one thing to go paperless from the start.
As Storm describes, going from an existing paper practice to a paperless practice is a little trickier. He suggests shifiting ”your method of handling documents away from physical paper-reliant files” and then, in detail, describes how to do so. Scanning. Document organization. Document storage and backup. Practice/project management. He leaves no paperless stone unturned.
It seems fair to say that once lawyers are at ease with new technology, and understand its risks and benefits, they jump in with both feet, apply it to their practices and share their experiences.