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Taking the legal industry paperless – The challenges and benefits

Environment, Law - 23/07/2020

Say ‘law firm’ and most people conjure up an image of entire walls lost to filing cabinets and desks overflowing with papers. Whereas many industries have said farewell to paper-based working some time ago, the legal industry is one of the last to fully let go.

There are a number of reasons for this. It’s not just a case of law firms being stuck in their ways and resistant to moving with the times. As well as the benefits of going paperless, there are a number of challenges, too. Here we take a look at both.

The benefits

Efficiency for both lawyers and clients.

Any company that has gone paperless will know the effects it has on streamlining processes, both for employees and for clients. In-house, it saves valuable time to have all of your data in one easily accessible place. Rifling through reams of paper has never been a good use of time. This is not only helpful in the day to day running of your firm. It can also make you appear more prepared in court proceedings when you need to reference something specific, fast.

As all lawyers know, it’s common for clients to want regular updates on their legal proceedings. For many, investing in digital ways to do this vastly improves customer service satisfaction levels. They find that they can update clients at the touch of a button, making everybody’s lives that little bit easier.

Paperless firms are green firms.

One of the main concerns for paper heavy firms is the inevitable carbon footprint. The environment is also an issue that’s important to your clients. Walking into a firm with masses of papers strewn around speaks volumes about how seriously your firm takes data protection. It’s also a strong indicator that your firm isn’t willing to embrace the best of modern technology. In an increasingly digital world, today’s clients are looking for firms that are able to adapt and evolve.

Having hard copies of documents can put a certain strain on resources. When you think about the life cycle of a document, from creating, to printing, to storing – there are a fair few processes involved. Add to that the cost implications and it’s understandable to see why firms are now considering digital alternatives.

The challenges.

Security risks and viruses

The transfer from paper to digital is always going to pose a threat to security. During the Coronavirus pandemic, cybercrime has risen dramatically, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk.

Make sure that your firm is crystal clear on its privacy and confidentiality policies and take steps to implement the appropriate cybersecurity. This should have a marked effect on the level of risk. In the first instance, firms may have to make an investment in software to protect themselves, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Transition costs and disruptions

For lawyers in a busy firm, time is not often a luxury they enjoy.  Therefore the process of a data overhaul and transitioning from paper to a life online can be an overwhelming prospect. If firms don’t outsource the transition process, it could mean some seriously laborious data transfers for time-short lawyers, not to mention the potential mistakes.

Finances also have a large part to play. Moving from extensive filing cabinets to online cloud platforms is a costly investment and can feel risky to many firms. However, when you think of all the money that will be saved in printer and scanning supplies such as ink or replacement parts (not to mention the paper itself), the investment will likely pay for itself in a relatively short period.

While going paperless definitely has a host of advantages, the time and financial costs can often be a sizable challenge to many busy firms working hard to keep cases on the move. Don’t let your accounts and bookkeeping become part of the challenge. At Numero, we take care of the numbers so you can focus on what matters, your clients and their cases. For more information, please get in touch with us.

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