The "paperless" office
Underlying many of Thomson Reuters solutions offerings is the fundamental need for capturing information and keeping records. Infinitylaw, Softdocs and Firm Central are all technological ways of addressing different aspects of that need, be it legal practice management or document automation. But what does "paperless" actually mean?
Say Goodbye to Paper and Hello to Increased Productivity in your firm.
Advances in the way people can communicate with one another have had a dramatic impact on society. For paper, it started with its invention during the Han Dynasty followed by its journey to Europe in the 10th century. However, it was the introduction of steam-powered paper making machines that saw the use of paper explode. Producing book-sized quantities of paper became cheaper, and with that, many vocations began to depend on paper for record keeping and the retention of information, such as law.
Then came the personal computer in the 20th century, which would give rise to the concept of the paperless office, an idea that was first introduced by Business Week in 1975. The prediction of the paperless office may now finally come into fruition with the ubiquity of technology within the legal industry, and the effects may be far reaching to how firms operate.
DOES “PAPERLESS” SIGNAL THE END OF THE PAPER TRAIL?
The expression “paperless” may be seen as a misnomer because it doesn’t mean no paper, but rather it means less paper. Think of the term “paperless” as more purposive, rather than literal. However with that being said, all firms are well on the way down the electronic yellow brick road already, from the conducting of communications via email, looking up cases and commentary on e-books, and using electronic registers for land, companies, and securities. Lawyers have put on their metaphoric ruby red slippers, and have begun to click their heels and are no longer in a version of Kansas where paper is Oz.
IMAGINE THERE’S NO PAPER. IT’S EASY IF YOU TRY.
One electronic file to rule them all
Well, perhaps not one, but the advantage of electronic files is that it can hold voice messages, videos, voice recordings, and photographs. While paper files? They just hold... paper. The ability to access a number of multimedia files which includes timestamp and location based information is invaluable for the busy lawyer.
Confidential information will be secure
Client confidentiality is paramount, and with physical paper, the risk of loss, tampering and damage are real possibilities. However, by implementing a proper system in your firm will prevent others from meddling with records without leaving an identifiable electronic trail.
Your firm will be saving money, money, money
Going paperless affords many firms the opportunity to save money from the obvious, such as no longer requiring staff to manage paper files. To the less obvious, such as less insurance cover for losing files.
The decision to take the leap towards a paperless office is one that requires an all encompassing effort, as Stuart Spicer and Hayley Weber of WRMK Lawyers in New Zealand explained, when their firm made the decision to go paperless with their implementation of Infinitylaw in 2011.
“The change will not happen without resolute commitment. Our experience that it is worth it in the long run. It suits our practice and people. It might not suit your firm, but it is definitely coming.”
Mr Spicer and Ms Weber also highlighted the importance of having the support of partners in making the change. “It is unlikely to be a success if everyone is not prepared to take part. The owners of the firm need to agree that it is going to benefit the firm and be prepared to commit to backing it throughout the implementation period.”
Both Mr Spicer and Ms Weber noted that any firm wishing to go paperless had to believe that the goal is worth it, because if your firm is not committed to making the change, then “don’t bother”.
EQUIP YOUR FIRM FOR SUCCESS
Get ‘smart’. Be mobile.
With smartphones and tablets becoming important and powerful tools of the trade, lawyers can take advantage of the new processing power available and with easy access to files no matter where your team may be, working remotely has never been easier.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
The ability to work remotely also requires a virtual private network (VPN), which will grant all staff access to systems from beyond the office. The flexibility that remote access provides can mean that mothers are able to work from home for example, while no files ever need to leave the office because they’re accessible everywhere!
The search is over. The precedent has been set!
With the power of Infinitylaw’s search function, finding a document has never been easier no matter how long ago it was prepared. And precedents? They’re all in one centralised location.
Let the work, flow
Reminders no longer need to be paper based or on the desk.
Furthermore, workflows allows for a sequence of connected steps (task based) and a diary system that all staff have access to indicating what has been completed on a matter, and what still needs to be done. The reminder system within Infinitylaw makes everything so much easier.
Don’t take our word
Let’s leave the final words to Mr Spicer and Ms Weber in going paperless.
“This has been an exciting and rewarding experience for us and it is only now that we have made the switch that we realise just how crazy and time consuming some of the things we were doing when we worked with so much paper.
If you get it right, you will be left wondering how you ever practiced efficiently with all those piles of paper stacked around you.”