In the world of legal services, time is quite literally money. Law firms must be able to account for every minute being allocated to a case, and the associated costs being charged to the client. That requirement for accountability includes document workflow. And if your firm is like most others, you are acutely aware of the staggering volume of legal documents generated while preparing for discovery, collaborating across legal teams and filing with the court.
Of course document workflow in a legal environment is more complicated than maintaining a spreadsheet. Every document must be processed with the utmost accuracy and rigorous compliance, and painstakingly tracked for billing purposes and cost analysis. Not the kind of tasks where you or your clients will want to expend valuable legal resources.
Solutions that streamline document workflow and consolidate the systems associates must access are imperative to achieving cost savings. The same solutions ensure that legal counsel is focused as much as possible on the needs of the client rather than administrative tasks. Simplifying expense management not only improves productivity and billing accuracy, it also allows associates to dedicate precious minutes to client matters when they matter most. No client wants to see “copying and scanning” appear as a line item on their billing statement.
Overcoming traditional challenges
Boston law firm Casner & Edwards faced these and other challenges when it decided to explore a replacement for the firm’s previous copying and scanning solution. The solution required two terminals and offered limited workflow features, requiring extra steps to send documents to the firm’s document management system. For example, users would have to log in at the copier to make copies and move to a different station to scan and route documents. It had problems integrating with the firm’s billing system, leading to errors that were costing money – for either Casner & Edwards or its clients. The inadequate system took valuable time away from client matters, frustrated users and made it difficult to engage in cost recovery activities.
The sheer amount of paper documents was intimidating, too. “Going back and trying to fix the 20,000 boxes in offsite storage or the amount of office space we have taken with files – we weren’t going to spend a lot of time looking at that, but we were going to make it a policy going forward of saying, certain things have to happen differently now,” says Paul Masuret, executive director of Casner & Edwards.
Understanding that the existing system was impeding productivity, cost recovery, and ultimately affecting client service, Casner & Edwards identified four factors that would become critical characteristics of the firm’s replacement solution.
- Consolidating the stations. In addition to recovering lost productivity, the firm also wanted to reduce the footprint in the copy and scan areas.
- Improving ease of use. Logging in at multiple stations frustrated users, especially new users and temporary employees.
- Focusing on workflow management. The firm needed the ability to route documents to email or document management systems from the scanner.
- Addressing cost recovery. The firm required accurate numbers to properly bill clients, and a new system would need to integrate with the firm’s billing software.
Today Casner & Edwards benefits from a solution that meets these critical requirements and more. And as you’d expect, the streamlined workflow and ease of use gained by consolidating two stations into one enables the form’s attorneys and staff to spend more time providing the personalized and valuable service to their clients. Is your firm considering a replacement to your existing copying and scanning solution? If so, perhaps you can take a page from Casner & Edwards experience and make these four characteristics your measure for success.