Heading into 2013, the trend for law firms big and small is to go paperless, as a survey by Iron Mountain recently found. But what are the best ways to do it?
Not only is going paperless good for the environment, it can also be good for your bottom line. Paper costs money, toners cost even more money, and replacing your printer can cost thousands.
Thankfully, for even attorneys in the smallest of offices, there are many options for you to go paperless. Here are five suggestions you may want to consider:
- Scan everything. You likely already use a scanner in your practice, but are you using it to its full potential? With a scanner you can create PDFs and mail them to your client for their review and signature, instead of sending things through the mail. Your clients will appreciate the faster delivery and not seeing a 25-cent per-page copy fee on their bills.
- Check out Google Drive. With Google Drive, you can now maintain a virtual file cabinet for free. Google Drive allows users to save up to 10GB of data without charge on Google's servers, according to ZDNet, which you can generally access from anywhere. If you're only saving docs and spreadsheets, you'll realize that 10GB is much more than you imagine. However, save too many PDFs, images, and videos, and you may find yourself running out of space, and there may be security issues to consider as well.
- Consider cloud storage. Clouds are similar to Google Drive, except you'll likely have to pay. You can run all of your software and keep all of your data on a cloud server that stores your information. But as with Google Drive, there are security considerations to think about here as well.
- Use your iPad. Instead of asking how an iPad can help you go paperless, you should ask how an iPad can't help you go paperless. With an iPad, you can take notes, talk to clients, carry around files and reading materials, and even perform research without carrying around a single piece of paper.
- Use e-signatures. Probably the last bastion for requiring actual paper documents is when a signature is necessary. But even signatures can often be digitized. There are a variety of e-signing programs available. Just check with your local court rules to make sure these are allowed.
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