Thinking of going paperless? Many of the lawyers I talk to think that the idea of having less paper in their office is super-attractive. But when you say “paperless” to them, it sounds like a ton of work. Going completely paperless is a major revamp of systems and can be significant work, but it is often worth it.
The benefits of a paperless office are straightforward:
- You stop renting space for old files. Yes, we cover saving money later, but this is more than money. This is room. The area that used to house a zillion filing cabinets can now be designated to new staff, sublet it to a new solo lawyer, or used as a swanky bed for Fido, the amazing office dog.
- You can grab hold of this mobility thing for real and run with it. Freedom from the bondage of paper often feels like freedom from the bondage of the office. If you are in the cloud, you need not be tied to your desk with that one paper copy any longer. You can work from home, from your car, from the beach, from a coffee shop. Always, always pay attention to confidentiality concerns and have your WiFi off or remote in to your desktop, but recognize that if the main copy is “in the computer” (assuming the computer is a mobile laptop), it makes you profoundly mobile, too.
- You can save money. Paper costs money. Ink costs money. File cabinets cost money. Storage facilities cost money. Old files stack up quickly, and the next thing you know, you feel like you are working just to pay for your paper habit. Going truly and completely paperless will cost less. There will still be some printing and shredding, storage, and backup costs, but not as much as the price tag of our good old friend, paper. Further, there will be significant storage savings if you do the conversion right by culling and sorting your files before you store them electronically.
- Efficiency means you get paid more for what you do. And if you set up your naming conventions, your searchable database, and your indexing systems correctly, you will make previous work more findable, and therefore, more repurposeable. It is the dawning of a new era, so take 100 percent advantage of its benefits and go paperless!
And some Super-Important Disclaimers: 1) Going paperless involves technology, even though there are no specific technologies mentioned or recommended in this blog. You have your own duty to investigate, to read contracts and service agreements carefully and determine whether or not it will be secure and work well with your system, or blow it up. I like many products which I do not discuss here, but even if I did, I could not vouch for them in every regard and they do not have the WSBA’s stamp of approval or any kind of endorsement. 2) The views expressed here are my personal views and my views alone. And I am human, which means I make mistakes. So please remember the land of technology should not be visited alone without a proper technology guide (i.e., wizard or IT specialist). If you need a referral, the Law Office Management Assistance Program can help (at least as to IT specialists, not so much for wizards). Contact us at 206-733-5914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.