It is a well known fact amongst the legal fraternity that lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, or whatever you wish to call them, can “lose” up to fifteen minutes of their working day searching for business forms and other important documents they need but cannot find. And that can equate to over fifty hours time lost each year – fifty hours of billable time! Did you know that in an average paper-based legal office, nearly ten percent of all cases will end up having at least one item of information that cannot be located when it is needed most.
Going paperless, therefore, has many benefits for a legal practice, and legal document management software can go a long way to solving the issues at hand. Efficiency can improve when going paperless because the retrieval of documents from an electronic medium is so much faster, and can be done from the comfort of the desk.
Cutting costs is another benefit and this is achieved by less space being required for storing paper documents. As well as this, time, and therefore money, is saved on the filing and retrieving of the paper documents and there will also be a reduction in mailing cost as many documents could be sent via email.
Client or customer satisfaction will also improve due to a quicker response to inquiries, queries and requests they put in, as well as the fact that these same clients can receive electronic copies of their documentation as opposed to copied paper versions.
A reduction in the risk of misplacing documents is another benefit, as is the fact that by choosing to go paperless a firm is doing its bit for the environment by saving on such things as paper, storage facilities and printer toner and saving on the power costs of running things like printers and copiers.
Case management software can also be incorporated, and all incoming and outgoing paper documents can be scanned and then linked as pdf’s to the case management software. The same can be done with emails and electronic documents, while pdf court forms can also be generated directly from the software.
By going paperless a legal firm could also enter billable time electronically, automatically adding it while working and track billable hours.
There are some disadvantages with the “going paperless” system. A big one is when a firm doesn’t commit fully to going paperless and is then caught in a “half paper” and “half paperless” trap. This only encourages staff to search both paper documents and electronic ones.