While at least 90% of law firms offer benefits like work-from-home programs and part-time scheduling options, it’s estimated that only 6 or 7 percent of law professionals are currently taking advantage of these opportunities. (source)
One driver in this must-be-present mentality could be the fact that paper is a necessity in many legal offices. In fact, it’s estimated that each attorney uses anywhere between 10 to 50 sheets of paper per hour – adding up to a potential 100,000 sheets of paper per attorney per year. (source)
That’s a shocking amount of paper, especially when you consider that we live in a time when it’s possible to be nearly entirely paperless.
When a career requires that volume of paper, it’s easy to begin to feel like you’re chained to your desk – or to your printer/copier, more likely.
LBR Case Study: Solving Problems with Legal Automation
Take this real-life scenario as an example of what it’s like to become dependent on printed documents.
Lewis, Birch & Ricardo is a premier provider of litigation support services. When we first met LBR, they were dealing with issues related to the sheer amount of paper and binders required to support their core business functions.
Paper Problems in the Legal Workplace
LBR’s paper problem was so extensive that they actually found themselves carrying luggage carriers with boxes of documents for a single meeting. That’s how much dang paper they were using!
Because they were paper-based, they also lacked a Disaster Recovery Plan, and they didn’t have an easy system for deleting old case files, which could have helped to reduce long-term liability.
The requirement to replicate documentation for opposing attorneys was also challenging, as each page had to be copied manually.
As Managing Partner, Michael Lewis, explained:
“Our firm has a large number of concurrent cases running at any one point in time. It is vital that we have access to all case documents on demand due to the nature of litigious matters.”
The hassle of always having their paper-based files at their fingertips was simply too much.
Addressing Legal Industry Problems with Technology
If this situation is painfully familiar, you can take a moment to celebrate because it doesn’t have to be this way.
You don’t have to continue doing back-breaking work like lugging around paper or tediously filing in banker boxes.
Here’s why: Paper is a thing of the past. There are so many solutions out there. And they’ll actually save you money, too, along with reducing stress and saving time.
Document Management for Law Firms
Sure, some organizations are slow to adopt new technology, but more and more are recognizing that, in order to compete in their industry, they’ve got to make some changes and take their business into the digital world.
Here’s a scary look at what it means to continue using paper in the workplace, and what you can expect to see when you make the change to a paperless system.
14 Stats That Will Make Anyone Want to Go Paperless
- A typical office worker makes 61 trips per week to the fax machine, printer, and copier.
- An average of 4 weeks is lost each year waiting on misfiled, mislabeled, untracked, or lost documents.
- Every year, $25-35 billion is spent in the U.S. on filing, storing, and retrieving paper.
- Every 4-drawer file cabinet holds between 10,000-12,000 documents, occupies around 9 square feet of floor space. and costs $1,500 yearly to maintain.
- Paper, in the average business, is growing by 22% a year, meaning your paper usage will double in 3.3 years.
- Pulp and paper is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water, and land in both Canada and the United States, and releases well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution each year.
- If the current rate of deforestation continues, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all the rainforests on the earth.
- Each year, enough paper is thrown away to make a 12’ wall from New York to California.
- Of the businesses falling short of their paperless adoption targets, 37% had compliance concerns that impacted their ability to go paperless. 33% of this group stated that they were restricted by regulations in their industries.
- Needing to get a physical signature holds up 42% of processes, which adds, on average, 3.1 days to most processes.
- 80% of UK businesses are printing documents just to get them signed! This figure rises to an alarming 90% in financial services and public sector businesses. Is this necessary? No. Pen-to-paper signatures are rarely a legal requirement.
- 59% of businesses going paperless achieved full ROI in less than 12 months; 84% achieved payback in less than 18 months.
- Going paperless can improve staff productivity by nearly 30%.
- Printing accounts for 10% of IT-related energy use – this can be eliminated by going paperless.
Check out the full article here: Jumpstart Your “Go Paperless” Initiative with These 14 Statistics.
How Legal Automation Software Can Impact YOU
Sure, all of that information is interesting in theory, but you may be left wondering how it can impact YOU, on a personal level.
Here are some ways you can actually see a difference in your day-to-day life if you begin using automation in the legal industry:
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and Full-Text Search
OCR and full-text search will straight up Change. Your. Life.
When we say OCR, we mean the automated capture of key data from your documents. OCR tools capture information and then use that data to automatically file your documents. Say goodbye to filing and manual data entry.
Once your documents and data are organized and easy to access online from any device, full-text search goes to work on the other end. Sure, it’s easy to use a document automation system to search for documents that are indexed (or filed) by name or date or case, but what if you’re looking for specific key words?
For example, what if you need to find any and all pages that contain the words “Expecto Patronum”?
(Yes, we live in a fantasy world where Harry Potter is real life. It’s wonderful here.)
This is where full-text search literally saves the day. As in, it saves you hours and hours’ worth of scanning every single page. It searches every word for you. Automatically.
Remote Access to Your Documents and Data
What if we said you can work from anywhere, on any device?
Because that’s what we’re saying.
Law firm automation means that you can access all of your case files online, whether you’re in a meeting, at an airport, or at home sitting on your porch with a cup of coffee in your hand.
Automated Workflows from Any Device
And it’s not just documents that you can access. It’s work queues, too. Your whole team can see what their responsibilities are, in order of criticality. You can complete work on-the-go, and push the process along to the next step when you’re finished.
Your Competition Is Already Doing This
Law office automation is something that your biggest competitors are already doing. Ever wonder how they get so much done with fewer resources? Consider this: maybe it’s not because they’re staying up all night every night, working double time. Maybe they’re using legal document automation software to get a leg up on the competition.
With legal automation, more work gets done in less time, allowing your organization to grow without increasing overhead or adding to your staff.
You can burn yourself out trying to keep up, or you can utilize the tools that are available to you, and come out on top.
The Millennial Workforce Isn’t Going to Hang with the Status Quo
The more you keep up with technological advances, the more millennial-friendly your workplace will be able to be.
Consider that your Millennial workforce grew up with computers in their bedrooms and cellphones in their hands. As digital natives, they’re accustomed to being able to retrieve and share information with the touch of a button, without having to do any manual work on the back end.
If you ask a Millennial employee to go to the file room, search for, duplicate, and re-file your case files, he is going to 1) wonder why you don’t have a legal document management system in place and 2) feel like his potential is being undervalued, as this is a job that a machine can do.
Millennial-friendly companies are those that are able to task their workforce with rewarding, higher-value work, not busywork like data entry and document filing.
When they have the option of choosing between an organization with remote and flexible work schedules, or a traditional, paper-based, 8am-5pm Monday-Friday office setting, what do you think Millennials will choose?
LBR Case Study Continued - Automated Legal Systems in Action
If you’re wondering what happened to LBR, our law firm that was carrying around luggage racks full of case files… here’s the happy ending to that story:
LBR partnered with DocuPhase to implement a document management system that would resolve their biggest issues, and more.
With a robust document imaging system, LBR was able to make all documents and information available at the fingertips of the employees who need it, when they need it. What’s more, they were able to use features like full-text search, automated document routing, and powerful auto-indexing. These features reduce the time it takes to manage and update records manually, while keeping everything secure and organized.
Using legal automation, LBR was able to:
- Eliminate the need to create document binders containing information requested by opposing attorneys, which freed up employee effort
- Provide a disaster recovery procedure for their paper-based documents by storing them electronically
- Create an effective record management system that allowed them to eliminate old case files and therefore decreased overall long-term liability
- Provide a system of accountability for both clients and attorneys that are required to provide documentation supporting their cases
“Other firms have actually asked us what system we use because of the way we are able to provide quick access to their document needs. The manner in which we provide document lists to other firms has provided significant savings to our firm and is a strategic advantage when it comes to competing companies.” – Michael Lewis, Managing Partner at Lewis, Birch & Ricardo LLC
Making the Case for Remote Work – Remote Workers Are More Invested in Their Work
If you’re still hesitant, even after reading the case study and learning about the problem with paper, you’re not alone.
It’s true – people can be hesitant to change, and there can be a negative outlook on remote work in general. But there’s no concrete reason for this hesitancy to work remotely, or to implement a remote work program.
Studies actually show that remote workers have higher levels of investment in their work, and that they perform equally to onsite employees, perhaps because of the clearer boundaries and more disciplined work habits that are necessary in a remote working situation (insurancebusinessmag)
Here’s What You Can Expect from Legal Automation
When you use legal automation (the application of enterprise automation to law), you get these 6 benefits.
Capture and automation tools take care of repetitive tasks for you, allowing you to get more done, while also decreasing overhead.
You’ll have access to tools like automated filing, OCR, full-text search, document tagging, and more. All of this adds up to being able to work on-the-go, and having fast access to the documents and data you need.
If being green is important to you, you can rest assured that legal automation is a step in the right direction. By going paperless, you’ll waste fewer global resources. See the 14 stats above for more details on the global cost of paper.
Your team will enjoy flexibility and better work-life balance, allowing people to embrace their personal work styles.
Forget tedious grunt work like document review or filing. No more slogging along in entry-level positions. When software bots take care of repetitive tasks, legal professionals are empowered to do higher-value work that utilizes their skills and knowledge.
Having a flexible, tech-savvy work environment will help your team recruit the next generation of legal professionals – bright people who are looking for rewarding career opportunities.
Looking for More Info Before You Go Paperless?
Check out our ebook – Not Your Mama’s Guide to Going Paperless – to learn more about shopping for a document management solution, and to access more real-world examples of document management improving businesses.
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