June 22, 2012
It is now almost axiomatic to say that the application of effective technology will save law firms money. This, of course, doesn’t mean that it’s not true. Even the simplest of efficiency upgrades can, over time, significantly affect the lawyer’s bottom line.
But, if you’re looking for one change that you can make, right now, that will generate big cost savings, one of your best bets is to make the transition to paperless, or to effectively reduce the amount of paper in your practice. When you move to paperless, you can begin to leverage efficiencies, including shrinking your in-office storage and shortening the time it takes you to find specific documents.
The paperless equation is stilted toward output. Most attorneys draft, collaborate on and save documents in electronic formats already. However, the vast majority of paper documents, held so tightly by most law practices—including drafts, notes and faxes—are those submitted by third parties: clients, colleagues, the courts, etc.
So, the primary question/obstacle in relation to going paperless remains: How do you scan in all that ‘stuff’ you get?
One of the best ways for small firms to accomplish the task is to utilize portable scanners available with bundled software. With a portable scanner, you’ll have the ability to scan documents in the office or on the road; and, the bundled software means you’ll be able to edit generated PDFs without purchasing separately or downloading the standalone program.
Some of my suggestions include:
- the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 or S1500M (for Macs) is the class leader, and not just because it’s a good scanner – it comes bundled with the best PDF manipulation program going, Adobe Acrobat X Standard, or 9 Professional (for the M).
- The Kodak Scanmate is similar to the Fujitsu, but is bundled with Nuance’s PaperPort and OmniPage, products less intuitive and generally effective than Adobe’s Acrobat.
- The Canon imageFormula P-150 is a less expensive tool in this line, for cost-conscious purchasers; it is also bundled with PaperPort.
I’ve written more about the advantage of remote scanning, and these products, here.
If you’re considering purchasing a home-based product, like a Doxie scanner, keep in mind that those devices are not essentially business-ready. Among other things, most of these tools don’t have batch scanning.
At the other end of the spectrum, you may find that you’re doing so much scanning that you need something more powerful than a portable scanner, in which case you could get a big machine for your office that doesn’t transport – and, there are a number of companies offering products in that fleet, for purchase or lease. In any event, having a large, office-based scanner would not prevent you from also purchasing and utilizing a portable scanner for smaller jobs.
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