A decade ago, the idea of a paperless law firm was unappealing to many lawyers. After all, lawyers filed paper documents with the court. Why invest in the transition to digital documents when paper documents were still required in many different legal contexts?
Fast forward to 2018 and how things have changed! Courts across the country have efiling processes in place, and in many cases efiling is mandatory. Technology has improved, making it easier – and more cost-effective – than ever to move to a digital law firm. The many benefits of paperless law offices, including increased mobility and flexibility and online data backup, have convinced increasingly more lawyers to make the switch.
Even so, some lawyers are nevertheless reluctant to transition to digital documents. Oftentimes their reluctance is based on antiquated myths about paperless law firms. Are you one of those lawyers? If so, rest assured those myths are unfounded.
Myth #1: A paperless law practice means no paper at all
Many lawyers operate under the mistaken belief that a “paperless” law firm results in the absence of paper. That’s simply not the case, and for many lawyers, is impracticable. Instead, a paperless office is simply one that has less paper. By digitizing documents, you reduce the amount of paper, but don’t eliminate it altogether. Certainly some documents will need to be retained in hard copy. But digitizing your law firm allows you to more easily organize your law firm’s files, all the while having 24/7 mobile access to important documents whenever you need them.
Myth #2: Going paperless simply means digitizing documents
Another popular myth is that going paperless means that you scan all of your law firm’s documents. Of course scanning all documents is an important part of your firm’s intake process when you have a paperless office, but there’s more to it than that. A necessary part of a paperless law firm is the creation of an office workflow that includes the digitization process.
As part of that workflow, you should ensure that your law firm has a consistent case naming and filing system that everyone uses. It’s also important to include plans for documents that you will maintain in paper format, keeping in mind that in some cases the original document is often a digital document that you intend to also store in paper format. Creating this workflow – and sticking to it – is essential since it ensures that your law firm’s documents are organized and easily accessible.
Myth #3: Paperless law offices are less secure
Some lawyers are hesitant to transition to a paperless law firm because they are under the false impression that paperless law offices are less secure. That’s simply not the case when you use a trusted, established provider to store your law firm’s digital data. The key is to ensure that your provider securely encrypts the data and that the data is backed up to servers located in different geographic regions.
Not only does storing your law firm’s digital documents in the cloud provide you with a secure backup of all your law firm’s data, it also provides built-in disaster protection for your law firm. Offsite storage of digital documents provides a safe, accessible form of backup for your law firm’s files. And, because all of your law firm’s data is housed in a secure cloud environment, it is protected from onsite physical damage, whether due to extreme weather, a fire, or some other type of calamity.
So if you haven’t yet moved to a paperless law firm, what are you waiting for? Now sure how to get started? Check out this blog post for some tips or watch this webinar “Creating a Paperless Law Office.” Once you’re up to speed, you’ll be well on your way to a paperless law firm in no time flat!