“Let’s just go paperless. We can free up all that space in the file room and quit paying so much for outside file storage.”
“What a great idea! We’ve already got those big, expensive printer-scanner-document senders in the hallways on every floor. So, let’s send out a memo! Effective Monday, we’re going paperless. We’re going to scan everything. Tell the mail room people to start scanning all the mail instead of delivering it to everyone.”
Thus begins the perfect storm of a paperless law firm makeover absolutely destined to fail.
For that explanation, you will need to read my column in the Oklahoma Bar Journal September 12, 2015 issue: ‘Paperless’ Office Doesn’t Really Mean Paperless.
But I have included more than just something to read in this column. There is something for you to use. Illinois lawyer Bryan Sims and I have collaborated on a couple of paperless office procedures CLE programs and this paper includes sample procedures for handling incoming mail in a paperless office. These are yours for you to copy and paste and use! (You can even use them as a handout within your firm or at a CLE program as long you as you give Bryan and me a little credit.)
Bryan and I don’t agree on every standard procedure, so we provide some alternative paragraphs that allow you to choose an option. We believe that going through the exercise of drafting procedures for one small, but crucial, part of the process (mail opening and scanning) with our suggested language will demonstrate how a law firm has to have internal discussions and the lawyers have to make compromises on how matters will be done.
Going “paperless” is not a “one process fits all” proposition. Policy decisions must be made, a written procedures manual must be developed and then training must be accomplished. The rewards will be significant. Bryan and I have provided you your first step in the process.