Law firms are constantly buried in paperwork. The sheer amount of paper that a single lawyer can use is substantial: One survey found that individual attorneys use between 20,000 and 100,000 sheets of paper per year on average. Another study has shown that a document gets copied 19 times on average and that workers typically spend between half an hour and two hours a day searching for documents. Paperless workspaces have multiple benefits, both for the environment and for a firm’s bottom line.
1. Increased law firm productivity and efficiency
Chaos and wasted time are byproducts of an office that still depends on paper documents and filing systems. The application support specialists at Legal Workspace report witnessing turmoil surrounding lost files at firms. When you go paperless, that headache ends because everyone knows where documents are stored, and everyone has access to them whether they’re at home, on the road, or in the office.
Collaborating with clients also gets easier because there’s no need to search for and send physical copies of documents—and staff no longer need to spend as much time filing and making and distributing copies to involved parties.
Instead, attorneys and staff can concentrate on getting things done (GTD). Going paperless allows you to follow David Allen’s GTD system without impediments:
a. Capture your tasks and responsibilities: Creating an electronic to-do list gives you the freedom to achieve your goals from anywhere.
b. Clarify the steps it will take to achieve your goals: Breaking down your goals into attainable and discrete steps increases your productivity.
c. Organize and prioritize: Knowing what you must do when—and knowing where the tools are to get your work done—are key to productivity.
d. Reflect on your tasks and goals: Reorganizing and updating priorities is easily done electronically.
e. Engage: Getting things done is all about ticking off boxes so you have the time to concentrate on the more creative and engaging aspects of your work.
2. Workflow automation
Simplify, systematize, and promote efficiency with workflow automation. A paperless office makes taking advantage of the benefits of workflow automation that much easier because all an office’s important documents are stored in one place, rather than multiple copies scattered across the office.
The team that needs the file knows exactly where it is, and everyone can access it on all their devices. Then, workflows can be set up that automatically create new tasks once another task has been accomplished.
Once a firm locks down the basics of using workflow automation, they can begin to implement delegation systems in their practice management software or apply a document management system.
3. Integrate applications
Having a paperless office allows law firms to take advantage of other technologies. For example, you can now store documents in your practice management application or document management application. Integrating these applications helps with efficiency and workflow, too: When you use a practice management application, documents can be organized and connected with your firm’s cases.
And, if you use Legal Workspace, which hosts all the software applications you need to run your firm on the cloud, your attorneys will all have access to those applications (and those documents) on any of their devices, anywhere they want to use them.
4. More space, more money, more time
It’s probable that going paperless will have positive effects on your law firm’s bottom line. If you’re not storing and filing physical copies of paper, you don’t need all that extra equipment and space. That translates to reduced budgets for things like paper, copy machines, filing cabinets—and maybe even a decrease in rent.
5. Going Green
Of course, one consequence of going paperless is a reduced environmental footprint. If you eliminate the usage of one ton of paper (about 200,000 sheets), you save 17 trees. As more corporations are reducing their environmental impact they expect their law firms to do the same.
Tech leaps, no worries
Technology around paperless solutions has grown rapidly over the last few years, and with that growth has come improved security and convenience. Legal Workspace has redundancy built into every security measure, which means that its clients’ data is constantly being monitored and protected.
As most other industries adopt paperless systems, law firms can feel comfortable following suit and selecting a cloud-based platform like Legal Workspace to help them access and manage their applications.