The Technology Paradox for Law
Technology has transformed how attorneys practice law. This includes working remotely, serving documents digitally, finding statutes online, and using e-discovery tools. Yet many legal professionals still have processes, papers and ideologies that predate the digital era.
Also, with the sensitive nature of handling clients' personal information, it takes IT teams time to validate that a new technology is secure and supports encryption. As a result, firms can remain two to three versions behind in software and server platforms. What may appear to the outside world as resistance to change is just careful consideration and thoughtful due diligence on the part of legal and IT teams.
Let's take a closer look at how the legal world is - and is not - adopting change.
The "Hand-scrawled Edits" Paradox
Attorneys are taking on more of their own administrative tasks, including managing email, scheduling meetings, and drafting and editing documents. Although lawyers create documents digitally, many still prefer to print out paper copies to read and mark up. They like to write notes in the margins - especially when collaborating ad hoc with others. Paper is inherently convenient and portable; it's always on and boasts amazing battery life.
The "Courtesy Copy for Chambers" Paradox
Attorneys can serve documents and submit cases digitally. Yet many courts still ask for a "courtesy copy for chambers," meaning a paper copy to help judges and clerks prepare for a case. Some government agencies require paper copies along with digital submissions. There are also some lingering requirements for original "wet ink" signatures and notarization on paper. That's a big reason why paper is still very much in play day-to-day.
The "Paper Records" Paradox
Research is all online nowadays - there's no need for hardbound statutes. Nor is there a need for "briefing bags" - the roller bags full of paper you used to see in courtroom dramas. Most attorneys exchange information digitally. Yet law firms still have filing cabinets full of client and matter records. Whether they haven't gotten around to digitizing historical data - or they just feel more comfortable having a paper backup - attorneys' paper piles haven't completely gone away.
Bridging the Paper-Digital Divide
Technology is bringing about rapid change, but paper still plays a key role. Whether your ultimate goal is a paperless - or less paper - practice, or you simply want to operate more efficiently, here are some steps you can take.
Plan for messy paper
Like it or not, paper is going to be in your workflow. Real paper is odd-sized, rarely perfect, and often two-sided with handwritten notes in the margins. Make sure you have the best scanning technology available to handle any shape or size of paper you throw at it.
- Flexible paper handling, scan quality and speed
- Software that integrates easily with IT systems
- USB connection (and no hard drive) for secure chain of custody
Equip your attorneys
Rather than make lawyers leave their desks to scan documents, empower them with portable desktop scanners. The newest portable document scanners pack big features in a small footprint and augment the shared hallway multifunction printers (MFPs).
They're ideal for:
- Quickly scanning wills, incoming client documents or signature pages
- Automatically routing documents to the right destination with the touch of a button
Deal with the past
Yes, you need clients' records. But is it necessary to keep a paper copy of every transaction and communication? When addressing historical files, consider whether to toss, scan or save offsite. For the records you digitize, a high-speed production scanner can make quick work of backfile conversion.
Seek these features:
- Parallel scanning connects up to 10 scanners to a host PC and runs them concurrently
- Intelligent software "sees" data in scans and routes them to IT application systems
How We Can Help
When you're ready to tackle the legal technology paradox, Xerox scanners can handle all that paper with ease. Our desktop, departmental and production scanners are built for paper-intensive law practices and court systems. We offer simple operation thanks to Visioneer's OneTouch® software and TWAIN DriverPlus with Acuity for precise scans and customized solutions. Take a look at our offerings to learn more.