March 2017

Selecting a Paperless Approach

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Countless methods exist to ease your office’s evolution to paperless. The ideal approach largely depends upon your office’s preferred definition of paperless. Once your office has defined its goals and identified the potential benefits, the structure for your transition can be established. A few possible tactics are below.

“Paper-Lite” Approach

If the majority of your office is resistant to the paperless transition, consider a “paper-lite” process instead. Even if your office is not embracing a fully paperless conversion, you can still achieve an office with considerably less paper. Setting a realistic and achievable goal is key. With expectations clearly defined you can avoid disheartening attempts or failures in moving to a fully paperless office.

“If the majority of your office is resistant to the paperless transition, consider a “paper-lite” process instead.”

Phased Approach

Progression to paperless may be achieved through a phased route. This approach requires establishing steps that will enable you to set a reasonable pace towards achieving a paperless office. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Establish a schedule to back-up and test digital files;
  • Scan beginning at intake, but also scanning more recent files that are still open into a digital format;
  • Digitize signatures and letterhead;
  • Develop a matter centric system with electronic matter files and consistent naming structure; and
  • Encourage filing of inbound emails either by setting a deletion time period for untouched emails or removing “file” > “save as” options.

Task- or Practice-Area Oriented Approach

Certain tasks or practice areas within the office may be easier to translate to a paperless process. For example, strictly focusing on client intake and file opening tasks will allow your office to begin with files that are still open.

Specific practice areas within the office may be more conducive to “going paperless.” If so, it makes sense to focus on these areas first. To identify which areas, you’ll need to consider both the workflow of the practice area and the personalities of its members. When evaluating practice area candidates, consider beginning with a practice group that is:

  • Composed of individuals based in a single location;
  • Smaller in size;
  • A strong leader in terms of technology adoption; or
  • Undergoing renovations.

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