Paperless law office: How law firms can eliminate paper

Law firms traditionally work with large volumes of paper documents, but it’s time to move past the paper. Embracing a paperless office model can save you time, physical resources, and storage space. The following steps can help you create a paperless law firm and enjoy all of the benefits that come along with it.

Embrace automation and go digital

One of the best ways to go paperless is to embrace automation and start new clients out digitally. Use an online client onboarding form to collect new client information digitally, avoiding the need to create paper files from the start. 

With Jotform, you can pair your intake forms with a customer onboarding spreadsheet, neatly organizing all the information that you’ve gathered through the form. You can even collect electronic signatures, making onboarding a convenient, efficient process.

Digital onboarding offers more benefits than just eliminating paper, though. With digital documents, you’ll streamline the workflow for your staff and demonstrate to clients that your law firm is cutting-edge and contemporary. 

It saves clients time as well, indicating that you work efficiently and value their time. Digital onboarding sets the tone for a client’s experience with your law practice.

Digitize all paper

As you transition to a paperless model, you’ll naturally still have to deal with paper copies of documents and existing files. Focus on the ways that you can digitize these hard copies.

If you have large volumes of files that you have to scan and digitize, it’s often easiest to pay a vendor to do this work. But before you complete this digitizing, come up with a digital filing system to keep your digital documents organized and accessible.

Your filing system will depend on the type of storage you’re using. Cloud storage solutions make it easy for multiple people to access and edit digital files simultaneously. They can also help protect your documents in the case of a fire or flood in your building. 

No matter what type of storage system you decide on, make sure that you invest in backups and multiple layers of security to protect your electronic files.

While you may need to invest in a cloud storage system, don’t forget that you can save money if you’ve been paying to store your old paper files.

Develop new procedures

As you digitize client files and embrace a digital onboarding process, you’ll need file management procedures that support these processes. Take some time to determine file naming, file storage, and general file handling procedures to guide your digitization process.

While you’re developing new procedures, it’s important to think about getting your team ready to follow them. You may need to hold several meetings and training sessions, especially for staff who aren’t very comfortable working with digital files and technology. Explaining the benefits behind the digitization can help get all of your staff on board.

Invest in the right software

Using software like Jotform can make your digitization process easier and more versatile. Not only can Jotform’s form templates help with the onboarding process, but you can also use templates to automate and digitize payroll, recruitment, and employee information management processes. 

Jotform’s table templates are all editable. You can also use the PDF form creator to create fillable PDF forms that include signature fields.

With the ability to create custom forms, you can replicate your current forms and easily go paperless. The templates give you a good starting point to help you save time, but you can always build your own form from scratch. 

Keep in mind that the time you invest in creating digital forms will pay off in increased efficiency and automation, saving staff time so your employees can focus on higher priorities.

In addition to software like Jotform, you may need to invest in equipment like desktop scanners or even an office copier that can quickly scan and email large documents.

Deciding to take your law firm paperless

There are many reasons to go paperless, and the process doesn’t have to be a difficult one — especially if you take it one step at a time. With a paperless system, your law firm will use less paper and will enjoy more efficient, organized processes. 

You’ll also be able to promote your firm as having gone digital to support the environment, which may help win you clients. With the easy accessibility of digital files, you’ll save all staff time, and your firm will be better positioned for success.

AUTHOR
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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