How To Automate Your Law Firm and Reduce Waste
Are you wondering about how to automate your law firm? You’re not alone; it’s a common consideration for firms in 2020.
It’s no secret that the legal industry lags behind others when it comes to technology, and most firms have come to terms with the fact that implementation of tech will be essential in the coming years.
Although coping with increased volume and complexity of information remains a concern for 72% of lawyers, only 31% indicate their organization is “very prepared” to address this problem.
This is because, if for nothing else, simple digital transformation strategies—notably those that address paper-based workflows—are becoming a necessary tool for firms to deal with increasingly large influx of information they have to deal with.
Today we’ll be taking a look at how to automate your law firm, and some simple measures you can put in place to get yourself on the right track.
Law Firms Need Digitizing
If any industry needs more digitization, it’s the legal industry.
It’s a twist of fate that the industry that is in most need of automating lags behind the others—consider for example how healthcare providers and retailers are using digital initiatives to drive business.
A typical office employee will print around 8,500 sheets of paper per year; a survey of attorneys found that they print around 100,000 sheets.
Considering the amount of information that lawyers have to contend with on a daily basis and the associated hidden costs of wasteful printing habits—law firms make for excellent candidates for digitization with regards to the automation of their paper-based workflows.
More than 7 in 10 lawyers across Europe and the U.S. say that both “Coping with increased volume and complexity of information” and an “Emphasis on improved productivity and efficiency” are two of the biggest issues they have to solve.
Solving Print Habits
We know that paper is effectively central to the operations of a law firm, and that’s unlikely to change, whether or not you have a new system in place.
What you can do, however, is put a plan in action that will help reduce waste, while improving security, compliance, and efficiency at the same time.
For as good and as ingrained in the culture stacks of paper are, today there are many complications to a solely paper-based system.
For starters, it’s a lot harder to establish an audit trail if everything is paper-based, and there are security concerns that arise from having loose documents that are not backed up or protected to the fullest extent allowed by modern technology.
So how does revamping your print habits solve this?
Many law firms are now using managed print services in order to cater to their printing needs.
In 2018, only 23% of businesses agreed that MPS (managed print services) played an important role in digital transformation. In 2020, that number is up to 54%.
A service provider will examine your current setup, establish a floor plan for efficiency purposes, and then install multifunction printers and a connected central database and help you with enterprise content management.
With a smart printer setup and an ECM system in place, workers can capture and scan documents, which will be automatically stored on your new centralized database.
This offers law firms a number of advantages:
- Improved efficiency in storing data
- Quicker retrieval of data and information
- Cloud storage for processed information which meets modern compliance and security standards
Only 37% of legal and compliance leaders indicate they have a formal information governance framework in their firms.
There are additional benefits, too; not least that with a printer network that’s fully integrated into your IT infrastructure, you now have total visibility over your print habits and use, allowing you to put in place limits if necessary and cut down on waste.
It’s also worth noting that managed providers take care of print supplies and repairs for your fleet, which is another reason they’re popular among law firms—for an industry that’s so dependent on documents on a daily basis, that extra reassurance that they’ll never run low or have to deal with a faulty mechanical issue is a huge benefit.
When considering how to automate your law firm, removing bottlenecks that so frequently occur in the workflows of firms is a top priority.
A 2019 survey asked respondents what the biggest challenge to their firm was regarding workflow; the top answer was bottlenecks causing delays in work operations, with 36% of lawyers indicating it was their most problematic issue.
Over half of businesses agree that managing their print is important to their digital strategies, and that’s primarily because it typically acts as something of a launching point for the implementation of other technologies in the workplace.
This is where automating your workflows can be the next step in creating a significantly more productive and efficient firm.
Automating workflows is not something that’s gone under the radar either—57% of staff at law firms agree that adding more automation through software could solve their problems.
So, what does this look like exactly?
Workflow automation in a law firm can cover practically any document that is processed in some way through a computer or MFP, and it’s best suited to tasks that manual and predictable.
Things like data entry, billing, and document preparation are all things that can be automated to help improve your efficiency and streamline your operations.
Lawyers waste as much as six hours a week on document management issues.
Your ECM platform will be the solution you use to start identifying and automating your workflows.
You (or your partner, if you’ve chosen an MSP to help you) will observe your current workflows and build a map that automatically ensures that documents are instantly sent to who needs them—in effect, no more chasing up loose documents.
You are also able to automate key processes like invoicing and onboarding (where captured documents are automatically read and indexed), saving time and money for staff who are stuck dealing with these repetitive manual tasks.
We mentioned earlier how law firms are often hesitant to engage in digital initiatives for their operations.
As we’ve seen today, the case for introducing some quite simple automation measures into your firm is compelling, particularly when you consider the benefits to be had.
In terms of printing, which is something of an Achilles’ heel for law firms, automating your document capture and printing processes by implementing a smart connected printer fleet can bring some very significant benefits.
Organizations spend approximately 1-3% of annual revenue on printing. 90% of North American companies are unaware of how much they’re spending on printing.
Once you have a handle on printing, the natural next step is to begin streamlining your workflows through additional automation.
This is especially useful for those manual tasks that can prove so time-consuming for staff, and creating more efficient workflows to your firm will improve your productivity and save you money on labor costs.
- Many law firms have inefficient working processes for their document workflows.
- Managing your print is an excellent starting point for future digital initiatives.
- Document capture with automatic indexing helps reduce waste, speed up processes, and improve compliance.
- Workflow automation reduces time spent on tasks that no longer need to be performed by a person, allowing staff to focus on jobs that are in more need of human attention.
Want to know how to automate your law firm? Print and document management are important parts of reducing costs for law firms that are budget-conscious and looking for ways to cut down on expenditure and improve their workflows. For more information about what we can do for you, take a look at our enterprise content management consulting services and discover what you could get from a partnership with Impact.