In February, MyCase exhibited at the New Orleans Solo and Small Firm conference and I had the opportunity to speak to attendees about iPad apps for lawyers. While there, I took the opportunity to interview attorney and paperless law office guru, Ernie Svenson (aka “Ernie the Attorney).
Ernie is a New Orleans attorney who provides legal technology consulting for lawyers, with an emphasis on helping lawyers embrace a paperless law office. During the interview, Ernie explained what it means to be a “paperless law firm,” offered his opinion on which is the best scanner for solo and small law firms, and shared tips to help law firms embark on a paperless practice.
You can watch the full interview or read the transcript below and if moving to a paperless law firm is one of your goals in 2016, don’t forget to watch the recording of our webinar on paperless law offices, where Ernie shares everything you need to know on paperless law office tips for lawyers.
Niki Black: Hi. This is Niki Black. I am in New Orleans at the Louisiana Solo and Small Firm Conference. I’m here today with my good friend Ernie Svenson. Ernie is an attorney. He’s also the paperless law office guru and provides consulting services for lawyers that are trying to go paperless. And I wanted to talk to Ernie about paperless today. How’re you doing, Ernie?
Ernie Svenson: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.
Niki Black: My pleasure, thanks for being with us. What I want to ask you first is what are the top questions you often hear from lawyers, especially solos and smalls, that are thinking of going paperless?
Ernie Svenson: Well, the first one I always hear is ‘isn’t it impossible to be paperless?’ And my answer is yes and that’s not the goal. The goal is not to eliminate every scrap of paper. The goal is to be more efficient and to be more efficient, you have to have less paper and how much less paper? You know, it depends on your practice but over time, you want to get rid of as much of it as possible in the sense of not relying on it as your client files.
So, you know, once they understand ‘okay, I don’t have to get rid of every piece of paper, it’s about being sensible and not dogmatic.’ Then, their questions are things like ‘what papers do I need to keep?’ ‘wills?’ and ‘promissory notes?’ ‘What stuff should I keep?’ ‘How do I manage it?’ Things like that.
Niki Black: Okay. So, once you’ve gotten them over that hurdle of deciding to go paperless, what are your top three tips to help them achieve that goal?
Ernie Svenson: I would say the top three things are, number 1 you have to scan obviously because you’re gonna get paper from people. So, the trick is to get the right scanner. For a long time it used to be ‘well, I don’t know what scanner to get. There’s a bunch of choices.’ There’s really only one choice if you’re serious about being paperless and that’s the Fujitsu ScanSnap or maybe something that’s equivalent to that. But the thing about it is, it’s not just the scanner, it’s also the software. So, the Fujitsu ScanSnap has been around for the longest period of time, the most number of people use it, it comes around with the Adobe Acrobat Software which is very useful. So, getting the right scanner, and that is the right scanner, it costs $400. You’ll find it on Amazon You get that one.
Then the trick is, all this information that you have now that’s not in paper is gonna be in PDF format. So, you need to make your skills in handling PDFs equivalent and better than your skills in handling paper because a PDF is like a piece of paper, except it does more than paper and if you’re challenged with manipulating PDFs and working with them, you’re not gonna like it. And so, you have to replace all your paper skills in the PDF world, which is really easy to do, and then you’re gonna find there’s even more things you can do with PDFs.
So, those are the first two. And after that it’s like, one of the big benefits of being paperless is that you don’t have to go to the office to get your files. So, to make that happen after you digitize everything is you have to embrace some kind of cloud storage solution.
There’s a lot of them out there and you just have to get over, again, all these questions lawyers have about the security and privacy issues, but it’s all been solved. So, you just have to ask the right questions to the right people and they’ll tell you the answers and once you embrace the cloud and you’ve got all your stuff in PDF format, you now, your life is gonna be a lot better. So, those are the top three.
Niki Black: Those are really good tips, really useful. I appreciate your time and this is Niki Black. Thanks for watching and hope to see you next time.