Between briefs, motions, medical records and other supporting files, every case at a law firm is document-intensive. This was certainly the case for our client Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP, a mid-sized law firm headquartered in Los Angeles with seven offices and 36 practice areas.

Duplicates and triplicates. File cabinets, file boxes and file storage rooms. Files onsite and files offsite. Paper files everywhere. Manning & Kass was literally drowning in paper.

As many firms do, they looked to automation software as the solution. But there was little user adoption. They soon grew disillusioned with the expense and lack of user adoption and knew that they had to pivot. People were processing the same documents and storing them in multiple places creating redundancies and a proliferation of electronic documents on top of the paper version.

That was three years ago.

Today, their law practice is on the path to becoming paperless or at least “less-paper-dependent”. Now the firm’s attorneys can work from anywhere at any time and of course, this ability to work remotely with a less paper dependent practice is incredibly relevant today—and helped Manning & Kass make the pivot to remote work quickly and easily when the pandemic struck.

So, what was VDS’ role in supporting Manning on its paperless path? First, before deciding on software or scanners, we took a step back to understand the pain points of the firm and the underlying business needs of each individual department. Once we understood that, we could map out a strategy and move forward.

The Path to Becoming Paperless
The solution: an optimized electronic workflow, which greatly reduced their dependency on paper and transformed their production centers into fast-moving “digital work environments.” What began as a system of print and copy centers in each office, is systematically being pared down to a single, holistic document solution center. This centralized center was optimized for high volumes and diverse job requirements, and although the number of print and copy locations was reduced dramatically, delivery times and production capacities were significantly improved, along with the user experience.

All trailing or “hard copy” documents get scanned in the mailroom upon arrival. They are profiled by document type correlating to the specific department, routed to a predetermined transitory database for review. Everyone that needs access to that document gets an automated notification. So rather than sending out multiple renditions of the same thing (often via email), which ultimately creates a storage and record retention nightmare, relevant individuals receive a hyper link with the contract number associated with it.

Now the approval/review process or data input can begin without losing or moving or redistributing the document around the entire team. Each user sees their assigned projects as they process, eliminating the need to search for them or even to rely on the automated notifications.

Lastly, we trained everyone on best practices. And now we’re there as part of the team providing on-site management and skilled legal document experts to manage their customized information workflow.

Manning likes to say they’re getting the “white glove” treatment.

Of course, none of this could have happened if they had not committed nearly 100% (ok, so there were a few holdouts) to eliminating paper, from the top down—"analysis-paralysis” partners, Luddite lawyers, apprehensive assistants, everyone. A paperless system requires significant work up front, as well as extra training time for everyone, but it does pay off in the long run.

Why should you switch to a paperless law office?
There are oh-so-many advantages to going paperless, just like the ones Manning & Kass experiences every day.

  • It provides 24/7 access. On the days and evenings before client meetings and court hearings, your attorneys will have 24/7 access to documents, guaranteeing them the ability to stay on top of their game, and deliver the wins your firm’s reputation rides on.
  • It can reduce costs. Going paperless can lead to slashing the bill for onsite and off-site storage and reducing the firm's real estate footprint, parking overhead, etc. With less space needed for storage (and the new hybrid working model, Manning has been able to embrace the attractive real estate pricing during the pandemic and increased lease flexibility that include significant concession packages and shorter lease terms
  • It speeds up files exchange and client counsel. Electronic file sharing is much faster than it is to print something, put it in an envelope, add stamps, drop it off in the mailbox, wait three days for the post office to transfer it down the street, then wait for somebody’s assistant to pull out of the mailbox, open the file, and hand it to the other side.
  • It makes things easier to find. Your day-to-day becomes easier when you can just type in a search query and pull up a line from a document that would’ve taken you hours of thumbing through a massive box full of paper to find otherwise. Electronic workflow produces the ability to electronically audit the history of the documents so “who does what” is fully transparent throughout the lifecycle.
  • It increases efficiency. Going paperless has allowed Manning & Kass to service their clients more quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy.We are there to provide service for the attorneys who are there to provide the very best service to the firm’s clients.

Lastly, we’d be remiss not to mention the massive advantage of being able to work from anywhere, at any time. That’s priceless.

So, if you haven’t yet started on the path to a paperless law firm, what are you waiting for?

Not sure how to get started? Give us a call. At VDS, we’re here to help.