Paperless Law Firm in the Cloud

paperless law firm

Why your firm should aspire to have a Paperless Law firm, why you need document management and why your firm should leverage the cloud.

In previous posts we’ve assured you that taking your law firm paperless is possible. In working with hundreds of law firms we’ve definitely seen that there’s a right way and a wrong way to attempt a paperless law firm. In this post we’ll explore what we’ve found to be the most successful strategy: implementing a paperless law firm in the cloud.

In this post we’ll cover:

  1. Why Paperless – Why you should aspire to have a paperless law firm.
  2. Why Document Management – Why you should implement Document Management software.
  3. Why Cloud – Why your paperless endeavors should bring you to the Cloud.

Why Paperless

First: Let’s review why your firm should aspire to go paperless in the first place. Why is a paperless law firm the goal? In a previous post we’ve covered 7 Reasons to Implement a Paperless Law Firm, but here is a recap on the top reasons your firm should work toward this goal.

  1. Your clients expect it. When you’re on the phone with a client and they ask: “Can you send me a copy of that motion?” – the last thing they want to hear is: “Let me scan that and get it to you.” In this day and age, clients expect that you have all relevant documents and emails paperless, organized and quickly retrievable.
  2. Searchability. Imagine being able to search for a specific name (for a conflict search), keyword or phrase and instantly find all occurrences within every document and email your firm has ever handled. When you have a paperless law firm via a Document Management System–you will. You can’t effectively search hardcopy papers sitting in a closet.
  3. Organization. Hard copy files are notoriously unorganized. Going paperless allows you to file documents and emails by matter and organize by document type. For instance: All contract revisions you’ve developed will be together under the Smith v. Jones matter–all accessible to your firm and quickly retrievable.
  4. Economics. In addition to saving you heaps of time, having a paperless law firm will also save your firm money. Physical storage costs money (and time), and going paperless will eliminate the need for square footage used to store reams of paper files.

Why Document Management

So we’ve covered why your firm should go paperless: Next we’ll cover how you should implement a paperless law firm. The epicenter of your paperless law office will be its Document Management System. If you’re not familiar, a Document Management System (DMS) is software that stores and organizes your firm’s documents and provides a number of tools to manage those documents.

A simple on-premise file server or basic cloud storage like Dropbox is simply document storage: a place to put files; nothing more, nothing less. Document management includes tools to manage documents including:

  • Index and Search
  • Document Version Management
  • Automated OCR
  • Document Check-Out / In
  • Document Tagging / Categorization
  • Scan & Fax Integration
  • Document Deadline Management
  • Comments & Metadata
  • Audit Trail & Change Alerts

Related: 11 Reasons Your Law Firm Needs Document & Email Management

Put simply, you can’t go paperless without a Document Management System. For a law firm, its imperative that you go paperless with a legal-centric, matter-centric document management system. A DMS that organizes documents by matter and has legal-specific tools to manage your firm’s documents.

Why Cloud

Okay, we’ve covered why your firm should go paperless and that a Legal Document Management System is the best (only) way to effectively do it. Next we’ll cover why your firm should go paperless in the cloud. The cloud brings with it a whole host of benefits (versus on-premise software and servers). There are a number of server-based/premise-based document management applications out there: but in this day and age: the best way to achieve a paperless law firm is in the cloud. Here’s why.

  1. More Reliable. Cloud-based systems, including cloud-based Document Management Systems, are inherently more reliable than software installed on your server sitting in your firm’s coat closet or copy room. Cloud Service Providers put a lot of resources into building and maintaining robust infrastructures, as a result: downtime and problems tend to be far fewer than managing your own server in-house.
  2. More Secure. Cloud-based software is typically protected by state-of-the-art information security systems. Form military-grade encryption, to enterprise-grade firewalls, to intrusion detection and prevention systems: These companies are (usually) in the business of keeping data secure. And don’t think that just because your data sits in a server within your building its less likely to be hacked: sheetrock is not an effective way to protect your data.
  3. More Accessible. It may go without saying, but we’ll say it: Being in the cloud makes your firm more accessible. And a cloud-based Document Management System makes your firm documents and matter documents accessible anytime, anywhere, form any device. Whether you’re at a client site or the courthouse: You’ll have instant-access to all of your important information.
  4. More Scalable. Consider on-premise servers and software. You have to buy the server and the software. Then you need to pay again every time you add a user to your software or need to upgrade your server–perhaps adding space or computing power. There’s always a glass ceiling that you’re only inches from: breaking it always costs a heap of money. Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, are infinitely scalable: Most charge a flat fee per-user, per-month: you can add (or remove) users to your plan at any time, and costs adjust incrementally.
  5. More Economical. As we’ve discussed a bit already: on-premise document management solutions are expensive. You have to buy heavy-duty server infrastructure to run most premise-based document management applications. Then you have to buy the software. Then you have to pay annual maintenance fees to keep your software current. Then you have to pay a local IT guy or company to keep the server up and running. Then you have to pay for a backup system or service. It adds up very quick. Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, are usually provided for a simple monthly fee: which includes the cost of the infrastructure, software, updates and support. And usually for less than doing it all in-house.


Closing the Loop

There you have it. When implementing a paperless law firm, you know how why you should go paperless in the first place, that a Legal Document Management System is the best way to achieve a paperless law firm, and that the Cloud is the path to the promise land.

Need help going paperless? Check out our other resources on how to achieve a paperless law firm.

Good luck.