Consumers are demanding that more companies become mindful of the environment by choosing to patronize businesses that conduct themselves with a focus on sustainability. In fact, eight out of 10 consumers indicate sustainability is very important to them.
Add to that the push toward digital transformation — a trend that is allowing law firms better ways to perfect the client experience, drive operational excellence, and meet compliance guidelines — and you have a recipe for innovative growth: The paperless law office.
Not only does a paperless legal environment help control costly paper waste, but it also allows firms to reap a number of measurable advantages.
How Your Law Firm Can Benefit from a Paperless Environment
Conducting business in a paperless law office helps you do more than simply control the amount of paper used for printing. While that is important — a single lawyer can print up to 100,000 sheets of paper every year — reducing the flow of paper can do more than just help the planet.
Digitizing your documents can also:
- Save time
- Increase productivity and cost-efficiency
- Provide a better client experience
- Provide better security
All these advantages taken together can help your law firm increase return on investment for a higher level of profitability.
How Law Firms Can Control Paper Waste — A Primer
When determining how law firms can control paper waste, there are three basic tips to consider:
Invest in Technology
Controlling paper means reducing reliance on paper documents. Since the practice of law is heavily document-oriented, this task should be relegated to technologies that encourage a digitized law office.
Typically, document management software is utilized to allow firms to quickly intake, scan, archive, edit, and share every document that comes through the door. Companion print management technology further amplifies results by keeping an eye on print flow, further securing documents through the print lifecycle, and reducing waste by employing pull printing.
Pull printing ensures no document is printed until the authorized recipient is at the machine to retrieve it, saving paper waste and adding a layer of security to the print environment.
Choose a Digital Organization Method
When your firm makes the move from paper to digital, care must be taken at the outset to create a specific technique that follows a document’s lifecycle. It should begin at the inbox level, with all critical documents being scanned and digitized upon receipt.
Once a document is digitized, it should be filed according to a well thought out system and naming structure that allows information to be retrieved quickly and easily by any member of staff.
Proper naming and indexing of files are critical for accurate searching and archiving to reduce preparation time during daily tasks such as client conferences, depositions, or case preparation.
Don’t Forget About the Originals
Because they handle a great deal of sensitive information, law firms must be compliant with a number of data privacy regulations.
To keep security high, every firm should have a written document intake process and a system for handling the originals once they have been scanned into the digital system. Some may need to be returned to the original owners in physical forms, others may need to be mailed for execution, while still others can be securely destroyed.