7 reasons why your law firm should go paperless
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to some major changes in how businesses operate. Over the last year, remote working has become a standard practice for most law firms. Due to the restrictions put in place and for the first time in living memory, practices closed their physical offices which led to legal professionals reducing their reliance on the paper file and they moved to video conferencing, digital case bundles, and even online court appearances. During that time of restrictions and lockdowns, many law firms realised unexpected benefits of their team working remotely including an increase in productivity, improved employee satisfaction and a re-focus on the importance of delivering quality client service. In fact, statistics from Indeed state that 72% of companies with remote-work policies say they make workers more productive.
However, firms typically still rely heavily on paper documents and physically files to progress a case, which isn’t effective in a digital environment. If law firms truly want to modernise and streamline their operations and benefit from hiring remotely and expanding their reach to clients, they need to consider the impact that reducing their reliance on paper will have on their client service, employee satisfaction and profitability.
The importance of being a digital-first law firm for long-term success
Law firms had to quickly adapt at the start of 2020 to continue to operate effectively. This largely involved quick fixes to survive in the moment. However, the pandemic has had long-term effects on the way businesses operate, which means long-term solutions and changes to strategies need to occur to continue to operate effectively moving forward.
In a recent report from Gartner, around 40% of business will be conducted digitally as of 2023. This is why it’s important for law firms to invest in solid digital foundations that will enable them to offer modern and digital services but stay flexible and adaptable to change. Savvy firms are building a digital-first approach that puts technology at the forefront of their strategy. Reducing their reliance on the physical (files, office, servers, infrastructure) firms are free to successfully operate from any location, at any time, with any client. A digital-first approach provides opportunities; firms can hire top talent no matter their location, they can attract clients outside of their local town to increase their new business potential, partners can relocate and work from any destination, firms can reduce overhead costs and much more. A key focus for firms implementing a digital-first approach is to first reduce their reliance on paper. Going paperless requires the right technology solutions but provides many advantages for your firm.
Listed below are the seven key benefits of going paperless
7 benefits of going paperless
Printing, posting, and storing physical files is costly. The obvious benefit of going paperless is reducing overhead costs – which can be up to £172,000 a year for many UK firms. This will inevitability improve profitability which can be reinvested in technology solutions that enable a digital-first approach.
Digitally storing all your files, emails, data, documents and more in one centralised platform provides an accurate single source of truth. It also provides a central hub that stores all your firm’s data, documents, and processes that can be accessed by the entire firm helping to improve organisation and reduces misplaced or lost details.
When files are stored digitally you can easily search for them by typing keywords or viewing a client’s matter history which can save hours of filling and searching through manual files.
If your documents are digitally stored in a case management software solution you also benefit from the additional features that help to further improve the organisation of a case. Time recording, form production, billing and reporting can all be completed within the same platform to help further streamline processes.
Freedom to work in a way that suits you
Without the restrictions of physical files, you are free to work from any location at any time. By digitally storing your documents in a cloud-based case management solution, you remove the need to visit the office and pick up bulky files. Instead, you can access and work on your case on any device, from anywhere.
This makes it easy to offer a hybrid-working policy for your employees as they can continue to work effectively at home or in the office. It also makes it easier to collaborate and share information with clients if the documents can be shared via a web portal instead of being sent in the post or visiting them in person.
A paperless setup makes collaboration between other parties much easier. Physical files have limitations and can only be shared via the post or in person. This makes timely edits and collaboration difficult and costly.
Being a paperless firm enables communication and collaboration to happen online. Digital documents can easily be shared and edited in real-time in a secure web portal, helping to speed up case progression and removes friction from the client experience.
Easy client onboarding
Signing contracts and providing identification is a key part in onboarding clients and when done digitally you can cut the costs involved and start the case quicker. Digital documents can easily be sent via a web portal to clients for electronic signature. This provides a convenient way for clients to instruct you and means contracts can be signed and returned in minutes rather than days. Straight from their mobile, clients can access contracts and sign straight away. Similarly, by carrying out your verification processes online you avoid having to receive hard copies of identification and the client can provide a photo and complete details online.
Taking physical files home or placing them on a hard drive was the interim solution during lockdown but is a long-term security risk for your firm. Transporting documents and data like this increases the chances of sensitive data getting lost or stolen, but with a cloud-based case management software, files are stored digitally and additional security measures are in place to protect the data you hold. Not only can everyone in your firm access the files from a central location, without needing to duplicate documents or print files, data is protected behind strong passwords, two factor authentication and server-side security measures. Running a digital-first firm ensures your assets are safe, risks are reduced, and compliance best-practices are followed.
Ensures business continuity
If an unexpected disaster or accident occurs at your office, a digital focused business can help mitigate the damage and ensure business continuity.
If an unexpected disaster or accident occurs at your office, a digital focused business can help mitigate the damage and ensure business continuity. When your documents and business processes are centralised and stored in the cloud, your firm can successfully work without relying on the office space. Your firm can easily adapt to unforeseen challenges and continue to run as usual; the biggest benefit digital-first law firms had when the pandemic first began was the ability to adapt and continue as business as normal even when restrictions were in place.
Future-proof your firm by going paperless
The modern law firm is digital. Firms with a digital-first approach will be able to successfully compete in the market and deliver profitable, quality legal services. The pandemic forced firms to adapt but before making a return to ‘normal’, practices need to consider the benefits they realised and the change in demands from clients that will affect the way they should operate in the future.
Traditional, heavily paper-based processes hinder progression that stop your firm from effectively winning and retaining clients in a very competitive market. Your firm should go paperless because of the endless benefits and positive impacts it has on your profitability, employee satisfaction, and customer journey.
A paperless, digital-first law firm, with solid digital foundations is future-proofed. It’s prepared for unforeseen challenges, flexible to meet demands, easily scalable for growth and freed up to focus on achieving goals.