Following these steps can help you save time and money by making the switch to paperless.
By Richard Hugo-Hamman
Today, smartphones and tablets put the world at our fingertips. Information can be retrieved with the touch of a finger. As a family lawyer, you must keep up with technological advancements in order to best serve clients. You need all client information – including all matter documents – with you, wherever you are. It is what the 21st century client expects.
Unless you want to carry around stacks of manila folders, the only way to achieve this is to go paperless. Although it may seem daunting, going paperless will make your firm more organized and help you serve your clients better.
How can you bring your family law firm into the 21st century and go paperless? Here are five practical tips to help you make the transition.
1. Convert paper documents to electronic format
Most correspondence today arrives electronically, and it is easy to associate with a certain matter. But what about incoming paper documents? A good scanning system is a must; scan all incoming paper documents so electronic copies can be stored. Depending on the importance of the original documents, they should either be destroyed or sent back to the person who provided them.
2. File electronic documents by matter
All documents – including emails and attachments – should have an original version stored in the matter. A good system will automatically associate all new correspondence and documents with the matter you are working on. It should also be easy to add it to a different matter.
3. Use templates and forms
Whether you are crafting a simple letter or a complex family law form, you should have these documents readily available when you need them. A good system provides you with templates, documents, and functionality that allows you to incorporate your own templates into one system. Associating documents and templates to a specific matter type within the system can be useful and help save your colleagues’ time as well.
4. Use electronic bills, invoices, and reports
There’s no need to search for paper invoices. Use a system where legal costs and disbursements are always automatically up-to-date. A good system may not even require the use of a bookkeeper. Reports can be re-created and updated at any time, making paper copies obsolete.
5. Record time electronically
Record all billable time on your smartphone or desktop. This will prevent errors when information is rekeyed or edited; and those types of errors could cost you money. You should also link any notes with the corresponding electronic matter.
Why Go Paperless?
A paperless office saves time: no more searching through stacks of manila folders. It also saves money: you can focus on performing billable tasks, not filing and version control.
The right technology, a willingness to make the change, and application of these steps can help you make the switch. The benefits? Impress your clients, enjoy practicing law more, and lower your operating costs.
To learn more about going paperless, you can download this whitepaper here: www.leap.us/whitepapers/the-paperless-office/
Richard Hugo-Hamman is the Executive Chairman of LEAP Legal Software. He has thought about the challenges facing small law firms for more than 25 years and has visited thousands of law firms on three continents. www.leap.us