There are many incredible benefits to becoming a paperless law firm. Technology has made it easy for firms to run a paper-free operation, yet many still haven’t made the change, perhaps feeling overwhelmed at the thought of modifying existing processes. However, the reality is that it’s easier, and more important, than ever to remove paper from your workflows and processes.
A recent report from Gartner found that around 40% of business will be conducted digitally by 2023 – so it’s crucial that law firms invest in solid digital foundations that will enable them to offer innovative, digital services whilst remaining flexible and adaptable to change.
Savvy firms are building a digital-first approach that puts technology at the forefront of their strategy. By reducing their reliance on the physical (files, office, servers, infrastructure), such law firms are free to successfully operate from any location, at any time, with any client. A digital-first approach provides so many opportunities: firms can hire top talent no matter their location; they can attract clients outside of their ‘patch’ to increase their new business potential; partners can relocate and work from any destination; and firms can reduce overhead costs.
A key focus for firms implementing a digital-first approach is to begin by reducing their reliance on paper. Going paperless requires the right technology solutions but provides many advantages for your firm.
Seven key benefits of going paperless
Printing, posting, and storing physical files is costly. The obvious benefit of going paperless is reducing those overhead costs to directly improve profitability, which can be reinvested in technology solutions that enable a digital-first approach.
2. Improved organisation
Digitally storing all your files, emails, data, documents in one centralised platform provides an accurate single source of truth that can be accessed by the entire firm, helping to improve organisation and reduce misplaced or lost details.
When files are stored digitally you can easily search for them by typing keywords or viewing a client’s matter history, which can save hours of filling and searching through manual files.
If your documents are digitally stored in a case management software solution you also benefit from the additional features that help to further improve the organisation of a case. Time recording, form production, billing and reporting can all be completed within the same platform to help further streamline processes.
3. Freedom to work in a way that suits you
Without the restrictions of physical files, you are free to work from any location at any time. By digitally storing your documents in a cloud-based case management solution, you remove the need to visit the office and pick up bulky files. Instead, you can access and work on your case on any device, from anywhere. This makes it easy to offer a hybrid-working policy for your employees, as they can continue to work effectively at home or in the office.
4. Improved collaboration
A paperless firm makes collaboration between other parties much easier. Physical files have limitations and can only be shared via the post or in person. This makes timely edits and collaboration difficult and costly.
Being a paperless firm enables communication and collaboration to happen online. Digital documents can easily be shared and edited in real-time in a secure web portal, helping to speed up case progression and removing friction from the client experience.
5. Easy client onboarding
Signing contracts and providing identification is a key part of onboarding clients. When the process is completed digitally there are cost and time savings to be realised. Digital documents can easily be sent to clients via a web portal for electronic signature. This provides a convenient and secure way for clients to instruct you and means contracts can be signed and returned in minutes rather than days.
6. Security enhancements
Taking physical files home or placing them on a hard drive is a security risk for your firm. Transporting sensitive documents and data increases the chances of it being lost or stolen, but with a cloud-based case management software, files are stored digitally, and additional security measures are in place to protect the data you hold.
Not only can everyone in your firm access the files from a central location, without needing to duplicate documents or print files, data is protected behind strong passwords, two factor authentication and server-side security measures. Running a digital-first firm ensures your assets are safe, risks are reduced, and compliance best-practices are followed.
7. Guaranteed business continuity
If an unexpected disaster or accident occurs at your office, a digitally focused business can help mitigate the damage and ensure business continuity. When your documents and business processes are centralised and stored in the cloud, your firm can successfully work and easily adapt to unforeseen challenges without relying on the office space.
Future-proof your firm by going paperless
Law firms that adopt a digital-first approach will be able to successfully compete in the market and deliver profitable, quality legal services. The pandemic may have forced some firms to adapt their business models, but before slipping back into any old bad habits, legal practices need to consider the benefits they realised, along with the changing needs of clients, when shaping their business for a bright future.
Traditional, heavily paper-based processes hinder progression; a paperless, digital-first law firm, with solid digital foundations, is future-proofed. It is prepared for unforeseen challenges, flexible to meet demands, easily scalable for growth, and freed up to focus on achieving goals.
Alex Hiscutt is a Product Advisor & Workflow Developer at Osprey Approach. With several years’ legal experience, non-practising solicitor Alex helps to shape Osprey Approach’s software solution and workflows to ensure they meet the needs of modern law firms.
Read more articles from Modern Law Magazine here