Have You Gone Digital?

Last Updated at: Oct 30, 2020
Have you gone digital?

The legal profession heavily relies on reading, writing, and researching. Going digital not only saves money, time, boosts productivity, saves space, and makes electronic documentation and information sharing easier but also changes the way you practice law and in some cases your lifestyle. This simply means that you will not be tied to the desk but will be able to practice law at anytime and anyplace you choose. Reducing costs and improving firm efficiencies aren’t the only reasons why you should go digital, here are five reasons why your law firm should aim to be paperless.

  1. Your clients are going digital

Ramping up efforts that reduce paper help you to serve your clients better and help retain them, too. Clients have gone digital in almost every aspect of their personal and professional lives. Having a cloud-based solution for signing documents, communicating, and receiving real-time updates isn’t becoming a standard expectation, it already is one.

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  1. Wasted time equals wasted money. Going digital boosts productivity

You shouldn’t worry about spending time on tasks you can’t bill for. Searching through and organizing hundreds or thousands of printed documents takes hours of work that can be done with the click of a button. Substituting paper with a legal solution that organizes documents and keeps track of signatures needed allows you to focus on efforts that drive long-term success for your firm.

  1. It’s good to go green

This is an easy one, it’s better for the environment! Not only is it environmentally better, it reflects positively on your firm that you’ve retired wasteful efforts and resources and have replaced them with more efficient ones.

  1. Make documentation and information sharing easier

Going digital makes it easier to collaborate with both internal and external parties on a deal. It also allows resources to work remotely and on-the-go, eliminating potential delays. Printing, scanning, and emailing .pdfs are unnecessary steps in completing key documents. Leverage a solution built for legal practices to securely create, edit, and complete documents for deals.

  1. Keep information more secure

There are additional costs in securing paper documents, and clients aren’t comfortable with the fact that their most private information is sitting on your desk, where anyone can view it. The bottom line is that important documents shouldn’t be managed in unorganized stacks of paper, or in email folders for that matter. If your law firm is going digital, it needs to leverage a tool with security standards that protect your deal and client information.

Going Digital

Too many excuses are made for going digital, the reason? Most often, “We aren’t sure where to start”. Well here’s a simple plan to help get the mountain moving.

  1. Make a paperless plan

But don’t call it that. Call it something like the “paper reduction project” or the “cost savings experiment”. So, you need a plan and that plan should look a lot like a document retention/destruction policy. Make sure you are armed with accurate details about what you are required to keep, for how long and in what format (in other words, can you convert the paper file to digital and still comply with retention rules related to your practice/type of document). What do you keep in paper format? What can you scan and destroy? What do you just destroy? What do you send to the client for safekeeping?

  1. Make a paradigm shift happen

Certain things just HAVE to change. First, training. Technology training has to become an unquestionable piece of Firm culture. People must understand how to use the tools they have in front of them to make this project successful. They have to be experts in Word, Acrobat and any other software implemented. The problem with NOT understanding the full potential of these tools leads to a lack of creative thinking and problem-solving.

  1. Convert all the paper possible to digital

Most companies are offering paperless statements; change subscriptions, newsletters and reports to the digital option. Stop printing prebills. Deliver them as PDF files and teach associates how to mark them up on their iPads or on their computers with Adobe Acrobat. Make sure your letterhead is in digital format and stop paying for preprinted letterhead and envelopes! Your expensive new printer will print beautiful envelopes when you need them.

  1. Have a proper document management system that helps you easily save, store, search for and retrieve documents.
  1. Scan all incoming [physical] mail that makes sense to scan. Have the receptionist/mail room scan and distribute the mail electronically or save directly to the document management system.
  1. Create digital signature stamps / “clipart” to insert signatures into applications like Word or Acrobat. This avoids the wasteful process of printing something in order to sign it, scan it back in and ultimately email it
  1. Configure remote access and portability. Make sure there is reliable and easy access back into the network or into the document management system from wherever you are so no one has to complain that the only way they can have the entire file with them is in a paper mountain.
  1. Use case management software

A case management software helps in the process of managing client relationships and documents, streamlines administration and collaboration, and optimizes marketing initiatives for you. You can organize your contacts, calendars, cases, documents, time tracking, and billing all at one place.

Going paperless is easier than ever, thanks to the readily available technology. The hard part is the human part, changing old habits and committing to the “new” processes. But don’t let that stop you, make the commitment and get started right away. In no time, you will wonder how you ever practiced efficiently with all those paper piles lying around you.

A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.