There are many reasons why a lawyer or firm may wish create a paperless law office. Saving trees might be one, but the best reasons are the selfish ones.
For example: having a paperless practice will make your life exponentially easier. The managing of paper has hidden costs and inefficiencies that you should take stock of.
For example, this online article reveals some of the costs of managing paper:
- A typical file cabinet takes up to 9 square feet of floor space and costs $1,500 per year to maintain.
- The average banker’s box, when filled with paper, weighs 25 pounds.
- The average search time for office document occupies about 20% of
- Finding a lost document costs $122 on average.
- At any given time, between 3 and 5 percent of an organization’s files are lost or misplaced.
- At least 70% of today’s businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records due to fire or flood.
Having taken stock of the hidden costs of paper, let’s consider the flip side of the equation.
Benefits of a Paperless Law Office
Slash overhead: you’ll have fewer file cabinets (eventually, none), require less office space, and eliminate the need for off-site paper storage.
Increase productivity: free your staff from mindless, time-consuming paper wrangling so they can work on essential tasks.
Eliminate overnight document delivery costs: No need to FedEx documents once you know how to scan your paper to digital documents and email them (or, if they’re too big to email, upload them to an online document transmission service)
Locate documents instantly, anytime: find documents quickly at the drop of a hat, even from out of the office. Even if you don’t know where the paper is exactly, you can find it by using a conventional digital search (e.g. like using Google to find information in your documents).
Gain a tactical advantage: when you can instantly find a “smoking gun” in the batch of documents opposing counsel produced you’ll become a formidable opponent, even to well-heeled lawyers in big firms with massive resources.
Protect yourself from disaster: if you backup or sync your digital files to the cloud (which you should) then your client data will be safe from major catastrophes like fires, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, and tornados.
Password protect documents: you can individually secure any digital file that deserves restricted access. There’s no need to create locking file cabinets or locked storage rooms. And if you store files that are accessible through a third party online storage system, you can encrypt those files individually, at the folder level, or en masse.
Feel less stressed: when you know your client information is always available, always protected, and retrievable from anywhere at any time, you’ll feel more organized and secure.
These are some of the root benefits. But the greatest benefit is probably the freedom to practice law in new ways that are more satisfying because you have more flexibility and control.
Once you begin to experience first-hand the advantages of a paperless system, you’ll be eager to complete the transition quickly. Which leads to the next common question that lawyers have about developing a paperless law practice: How quickly can I make the transition?
To learn more get started right away with our free 1-page guide called 5 Keys to Creating a Paperless Law Office.