Peek in the corner of a traditional law office and you’ll see what looks like a warehouse’s worth of legal documents, everything from subpoenas to invoices to research all stuffed into precisely labeled file folders. Paralegals scurry back and forth fetching documents on legal precedents and printed-off email correspondence to assist lawyers who are in the midst of constructing the best possible argument for their clients.
It’s unnecessary to point out the astounding amount of labor and manpower that goes into the management of documents at a law firm for one case, let alone all the cases handled by a firm. Not only is the current system a tedious process for the legal team, it’s a difficult system to master for new paralegals and assistants tasked with sorting, searching and locating the documents, which may be both physical and digital.
Just imagine how much easier it would be if you could manage all your legal and case documents in one place. Now imagine the cost savings! Keep reading to see how much a single filing cabinet with over 15,000 pieces of paper is costing your practice, and how little space even a full academic library would cost if digitized into a document management platform.
Document Management in the Paperless Law Firm
Document management is made simpler by using a smart file management platform. Instead of hauling several bankers boxes full of documentation from the law firm to the courtroom and back to the law firm again, lawyers can access every single file they need from a web portal available from anywhere. Photos, videos statements or reports — whatever the file is that you need, it can be pulled up with a few key taps on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. With OCR recognition and search functionality available on file management platforms, you can even search through PDFs and other scanned documents.
Once you transition to a file management platform, you’ll find that there is no need to have all that paperwork around. File management doesn’t just apply to the storage of files, it also makes sharing and transferring of files easier. Whether it’s sharing evidence with opposite legal counsel or sending witness statements to a fellow attorney, the platform makes it possible to securely and safely share the sensitive documents specific to legal cases.
Even more, dealing less in paper copies and more in digital will decrease your law firm’s impact on the environment. By lessening the amount of physical documents a law firm deals in, they can have a greater impact on forests, spend less time using printers, scanners, fax machines and shredders and more time focusing on the important aspects of clients’ cases. Firms can even save on the bottom line by minimizing the amount of manpower they need for big cases.
Can Your Law Firm Benefit From Going Paperless with a File Management Platform?
The points outlined above are the main benefits of going paperless with a file management platform, but there are so many more. If law firms use a document and file management system like SmartFile, they have the ability to assign granular user roles and permissions to both lawyers and clients as well as get analytics on the file journey, including user access, location, date and time and IP addresses. They can also use SmartFile to connect into storage and provide even more accessibility and security to their current file structure.
Another benefit is cost — imagine how many documents you work with on a typical case. If you’re in the middle of the discovery process, the number of documents can go up into the millions. Think of a typical file cabinet: it can hold anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 documents. The cost to keep that filing cabinet full would be $25,000 and an additional $2,000 over time to maintain. The capacity of a file cabinet is nowhere near what the typical law firm stacks up in documents.
Think of it another way, an academic library, if digitized, would hold an astoundingly small 2 terabytes of data. Going back to our filing cabinet example, a filing cabinet with 20,000 pieces of paper would only take up about 2% of a terabyte worth of storage — assuming the average document is 1MB. Even if the average document is 5MB, you’re still using only 10% of a terabyte’s worth of space.
With a document management platform like SmartFile, that level of storage is easily handled by a Business Plus or Unlimited accounts, which offers no caps on storage. In addition, you’ll get the added benefit of secure, anywhere access to your data on any device, without an installation.
Afraid of the cloud? SmartFile’s on-prem offering FileHub™ can deliver the same results behind your firewall. Talk to a sales associate to learn more about that option.
While it may take large firms a period of time to transition over to a paperless office, the productivity increase and cost savings are worth it in the long run.
Document Management in a Paperless Law Office
Creating a paperless law office is entirely possible with a document management platform like SmartFile. Try it right now for free!