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Can firms operate fully paperless?
Blog //21-09-2023

Can firms operate fully paperless?

The legal profession, known for its reliance on mountains of paperwork, is now witnessing a transformative shift towards paperless operations. This article explores why it’s time that law firms should ditch the paper files and look towards going digital and paperless. 

There are a number of compelling reasons why moving towards a paperless office makes sense. The first is the cost argument, not only from a printing perspective, but also considering the costs of storage (including office space), document retrieval and postage which can be drastically reduced. While the cost of digital storage is not free, it is significantly more affordable when weighed against all the factors that need to be included into physical storage.

Similar to this is the time cost of locating files, as well as waiting for correspondence by post in both directions. A study for document management solution NetDocuments found that a fifth of a fee-earner’s working week was spent locating the right documents - something that can be reduced to minutes with a digital document management system.

The security argument is also a strong one. Paper documents are susceptible to loss, theft, or damage, while a digital ecosystem, supported by secure document management software, ensures robust data encryption and safeguarding sensitive client information. With the strict regulatory frameworks in place for law firms, paperless operations with comprehensive audit trails and version histories facilitate greater compliance and accuracy.

There are also strong client-facing reasons for doing so. Sustainability is something that people are looking to support and be a part of in most things, and reducing their footprint through less paper is now seen as a commonplace request in the digital marketplace. Clients are also looking for more digital and efficient client journeys, and will seek out firms that will cater to their needs of being always-on, and offering digital communication and collaboration channels.

Is fully paperless possible?

Document management solutions can prove to be a transformative step for a law firm aiming to transition to a paperless environment. 

This technology offers an array of benefits that streamline the logistics of going fully paperless. By centralising case files, legal documents, and communications on a secure cloud-based platform, lawyers and staff can access critical information from anywhere, fostering seamless collaboration and eliminating the constraints of physical paperwork. Robust search and indexing capabilities enable quick retrieval of documents, enhancing efficiency and reducing time spent on manual searches. There are also robust security measures, ensuring client confidentiality and compliance with data protection regulations. 

The transition towards a paperless future is no longer an option, but rather the solution for law firms seeking to thrive in the modern legal landscape. Embracing document management software and going fully paperless brings a multitude of benefits, from environmental stewardship and cost savings to enhanced productivity and client satisfaction. By making this shift, law firms can position themselves as industry leaders, meet client expectations, and help contribute to a greener, more sustainable planet.

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