In a recent article in Legal Tech News, the article’s author reported that more than eighty (80) percent of law firms still rely heavily on paper and paper records. Thus, we are still a highly environmental UNFRIENDLY industry and because of our paper clutching behavior, we remain highly inefficient and wasteful.
What most law firms fail to realize is that there is almost always a digital copy of every piece of paper in every file in our office. This author would surmise that over 98% of all documents we receive, review, produce or otherwise rely upon starts digitally. Do you print every document? Do you print E-Mails? Do you print paper only to scan it back in at some point? We continue to cling to the concept that in order to “finish” a document, whether we produce it in our office, or if it comes attached to an email, we must print. In the digital age, printing is no longer an act of finality.
Moving to a less paper reliant environment serves a myriad of positive purposes, the top three of which are:
1. Readily available and easy access;
2. Significant cost savings; and
3. Improved efficiencies for our staff and clients.
Quite frankly, our clients live in the world of instantaneous information and access. And, our clients expect us to have a modicum of proficiency when it comes to technology. In fact, as late as this past summer, the Florida Bar, enhanced CLE requirements of Florida lawyers centered on technology. John Stewart, chair of the Florida Bar’s VISION 2016 Technology Committee stated, "…lawyers cannot practice law competently if they don’t have a basic level of technological competence in their practice area." This writer suggests that you should expect a similar position from most state bar associations in the coming months and years. The time to prepare for same is now. By the end of this decade, technological competence, a large part of which is knowing how to access and store digital content, will be a core part of lawyer competence statements by state bars and provincial law societies.
Think about it this way, would you feel comfortable going to a doctor who didn’t invest in the latest x-ray or pain management technologies? Most of us would refuse to allow a doctor to put us in front of an x-ray machine that was more than 10 years old given the significant safety improvements in x-ray technology in the last decade. The point is that our clients EXPECT us to have the latest and greatest technology to allow us to do our jobs efficiently and productively. And as our industry moves away from traditional hourly billing income collection, competence in technology, access to digital content and the like is the ONLY way we will remain competitive in the future. Firms with basic technology budgeting and investments will take our industry over in as little as five years. Don’t be left behind.
Need some help loosening your firm's grip on paper? Request a consultation now!