The paperless law office is fast becoming the new normal. While it is almost paperless, it is probably the most secure, on a legal basis, of what a paperless law office can be. Paperless is different from a virtual office as there is still a brick and mortar place to work. However, it does help to cut down on the space and personnel needed and increase efficiency.
Using the newest technology for a paperless office to store data or documents and communicating on a regular basis with clients, courts, and businesses is much easier. There still will be some paper, but that paper is reduced greatly. There is still is a brick and mortar building which is staffed and used to meet with clients and business associates. With a virtual office, all transactions and documents are stored online; there is no brick and mortar place to meet with clients. Consequently, this can be extremely wrong on several fronts including, the possibility of fraudulent persons acting as lawyers, security of your sensitive personal information being out there on the internet, the ethics issues involved and how do you retrieve information if the internet is down?
In building a paperless office, you would need the following basic hardware:
• The obvious computers and printers
o Ones that are centralized
o Desktop scanners for individual personal use
• You would need an in-house accessible storage system as well as an offsite storage backup system
o Online data storage would also be needed such as cloud computing services and Saas (Software as a Service)
Recommendations for hardware would be desktop computers and/or laptops depending on the need of legal support personnel and the attorney(s) needs. Printers would be purchased as need...
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... practice right down to the area of law the firm practices.
However, while it is nice to be able to say you are a paperless office, there will be some need for paper. By utilizing the above technology in an office, it would more than likely reduce the paperwork, normally held in an office, to approximately 20% paper storage needed. Paperless saves time by being able to quickly retrieve information and print documents as needed. It reduces costs by reducing the need for storage, printing of documents, mailing documents by various means, and delivering personally by being able to email, eFax, or e-file where acceptable.
While virtual offices are less expensive regarding personnel and equipment needed, for the reasons of security, ethics, safety and still reducing cost and increasing efficiency I recommend the paperless office system as described above.
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