One legal firm started the push to go digital half a decade ago, and in the years since the office has enjoyed plenty of efficiency boosts on its path to going paperless – an initiative that is nearly complete.
By the end of the first quarter of this year Lindquist & Vennum will be a completely digital legal firm, The Legal Intelligencer reported. The regional law firm, with offices in cities such as Minneapolis and Denver, only files matters electronically, and if a file comes in as paper, it is immediately scanned into a digital format. With this strategy in place the flow of paper into the office should be completely cut off within a few months.
The campaign to go digital started back in 2009 when a group of lawyers began voicing their desire for remote access to their files, the publication explained. Virtual desktops were implemented throughout the firm in 2010 and the offices began to encourage staff to bring their own devices in for work. Both initiatives grew quickly in popularity as the benefits became more clear.
How going paperless can help law offices
Working in the legal sphere for sometime has meant handling a lot of paper on a daily basis, the American Bar Association explained. The issue is that paper often disadvantages law firms compared with those whose workflows are mostly digital. For example, the costs of paper, ink and file storage alone are significant. Then there are the typical delays with finding and filing documents, as well as the cost of having to replace those that have gone missing. Paper processes are simply often littered with inefficiencies.
There are a number of ways in which switching to document storage solutions can end up saving a law office money. For example, by saving in cases in PDF formats there is no need to carry around copies everywhere. Copying is fairly expensive, and it can be time consuming. Additionally, the cost of storing paper around the office can often be overlooked, but is significant. How much of your floor space is taken up by filing cabinets? And what could you do with the space those cabinets take up if you got rid of paper?
Money can also be saved in labor costs. Employees are on the clock when they are copying documents, searching for files and reloading the printer. What if they could be using all of that time to do something more productive?
A return on investment for Lindquist & Vennum
Lindquist & Vennum has certainly discovered the benefits of going paperless. Starting in June 2012 the law office began the first of a three phase initiative to go paperless. The legal firm achieved a return on investment in less than one year, 33 percent sooner than expected at the start of the campaign to go digital. Year-over-year the firm saw costs for supplies alone drop by $80,000.
The group of lawyers who noted that it would be better for the law firm to operate without paper eventually got permission from the executive level, began scanning documents into .PDF format and working to set up an organized content management system designed to allow lawyers to easily access and edit documents.
During the paper conversion process it was found that what was most important to many people was the integrity of files. These individuals were reassured by the fact that going digital often increases integrity. Paper documents can be sloppily filled out, copied multiple times and lost during organizing, all of which can be detrimental to integrity.