A traditional law firm, regardless of size, will have significant resources dedicated to the processing and storage of paperwork. That covers everything from physical storage through to the time taken to manage it. Large amounts of paperwork create significant potential for wasteful offsite storage costs and mistakes driven by human error; mislabelled contracts, lost letters and personnel churn all create knowledge gaps.
Added to this is the burden of GDPR. How are traditional paper-based methods of information storage equipped to comply with a digital-focused data regulation? The short answer is: they aren’t.
The Choice: Evolve Or Stagnate
Much like other industries, the legal sector finds itself in a state of flux. Differentiation is now more important than ever, but how one firm stands out against another has changed dramatically. Price, expertise, and quality of service are still key, but so too are responsiveness and being accessible to your target customers.
Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30 percent of organisations will be securing competitive advantage through their workforce’s ability to creatively exploit digital technologies. The challenge legal businesses face is not in protecting against new threats or competition, but in how holistically digitalisation is embraced and new opportunities are seized.
It’s clear that there is a significant opportunity for legal businesses to evolve by changing the way they capture, organise and store information. This will reduce cost and increase their ability to deliver an improved service, whilst remaining regulatory compliant. It’s the automation opportunity – taking out the risk of mistakes, cutting waste, and delivering a more efficient way of working.
All law firms have standard templates for different communications with different paper and delivery requirements. Managing these important documents can be a real headache. It’s likely that traditional approaches will come with restrictions – perhaps only specific printers can be used leading to bottle necks, whilst a highly qualified IT team may have to manage the process, or the back office system might not be able to email or electronically file documents.
In such an instance, a dual approach of managed print services combined with customer communication management software could be deployed to drive down printing in the first instance and then use centralised high volume multi-functional printers, secure follow-me printing, advanced pre-printed media handling and statistics where printing is absolutely necessary. This approach provides a strong return on investment, frees up IT headcount to be deployed on more complex and pressing matters and simplifies the process for the end user.
The result? A simplified user experience, a better customer experience, better device performance, and lower costs.
Another example is in the form of document management. Businesses in the legal sector have a multitude of ways in which they receive data they need to file and store: client emails, faxed invoices or paper contracts that have been signed. Storing and processing these different documents and file formats takes time and money, but intelligent data capture can standardise the flow of data by using a variety of tools and software. Digital pens, tablet-based forms capture, document capture, and optical character recognition enable data to be automatically extracted, verified and stored in existing systems.
Businesses like law firms rely on the ability to quickly and accurately share relevant information. In this instance, automating document management workflows means being able to better manage, share and secure critical documents whether they are paper, electronic, or digital. From searching and accessing documents rapidly, to having complete oversight of everyone accessing and reviewing a file, or ultimately cutting down on the need to store significant amounts of paper, having a document management workflow which meets company needs is critical.
We’ve only scratched the surface of how automation can help legal businesses improve workplace efficiency. What’s clear is that just because an industry has been “built” on paper, doesn’t mean that future ways of working can’t be digitalised. By introducing automation, and using digital tools effectively, firms of all sizes can streamline processes, helping them to respond and act faster without impacting the client experience or regulatory compliance.