Improving business efficiency is a top priority for most businesses, especially for those who have a heavy reliance on paper-based processes. Adrian Rumble, Managing Director of Ben Johnson explains for Lawyer Monthly how legal firms can address these challenges.
The legal sector is inundated with paperwork, leading to significant amounts of time being spent on non-productive administrative overheads to manage paper records. Despite many firms embracing new digital software solutions a large amount of information they receive, and produce, is still paper based. Traditional methods of managing paper-based documents simply can’t deal with the volume of data requiring management and organisation. Therefore, legal firms are increasingly looking at digitalisation.
Digital workflow automation solutions enable legal firms to boost productivity and efficiency by automating document and information workflows, saving time, space and money.
Here are 3 examples of digital solutions that can benefit the legal sector:
Mail Room Automation
The management of significant amounts of paper documentation, such as client inception and matters, evidence, statements, filings and court proceedings leave no room for delays, errors, or lapses in security. For law firms, making those documents available to the right people, at the right time, is of paramount importance. In order to be as efficient as possible with time, and to provide the best possible service to their clients, legal professionals need to have vital data at their fingertips.
Implementing mail room automation transforms the management and processing of legal documents by lowering the time spent manually sorting, classifying and distributing mail.
Mailroom automation solutions automatically route all in-bound communications regardless of whether they are paper, fax or e-mail to the right recipient. Incoming mail can be scanned using optical character recognition (OCR), automatically classified and indexed using information from the document, such as the ‘case number’, ‘client name’ or ‘address’. Indexing software has made huge steps forward using natural language processing to get to the core understanding of unstructured text. Software can now determine whether a letter is for distribution to Family Law, Personal Injury or Residential Property by the words it contains and the structure of its sentences.
Workflows can be set up to allow all documents to be electronically sent to the correct recipients, delivering the right information to the right person at the right time. This helps speed up the process of responding to incoming queries, reducing waiting times and leading to improved customer service and satisfaction.
Law firms are under increasing pressure to deliver more services at lower costs to their clients. The legal sector is renowned for its large paper archives, which must be kept safe, secure and intelligently organised. Law firms will especially benefit from smarter document management solutions as they eliminates the need to handle paper documents, allow information to be searched for and located instantaneously, and allow this to be done securely, regardless of physical location. As an added bonus, effective document management will significantly reduce on-site paper archives, freeing up valuable real estate for more productive use.
Digital storage of documents in a document management system on premise or in the cloud is an intelligent way to keep legal archives organised, easily accessible and secure. Access controls and audit trails can be put in place to help firms comply with regulations and legal admissibility. This includes clear electronic audit trails of who has viewed and amended documents, making systems far more accurate and accountable.
Electronic document management is far more efficient and has fast searching capabilities – there is no need to spend hours searching through filing cabinets to retrieve documents. Legal staff can spend less time on administration and more time on productive tasks.
Document Distribution for Outbound Communications
Legal firms are inundated with inbound paper-based communications, but also produce a significant amount of outbound hard copy mail. With significant print and paper costs, and with postage costs are at an all-time high, legal firms can benefit from utilising more lower cost electronic communication channels. In addition to lowering costs electronic channels satisfy clients’ demands for instantaneous access to documents. Delivery of high quality electronic documents through email or online web-portals can reduce the cost of outbound communications whilst improving the client experience at the same time.
Intelligent software solutions can intercept print traffic before it hits the printer and not only make informed decisions on how best to send outbound communications e.g. print, email, fax or web-portal, they can also apply letterheads and branding, without the need to make any changes to the underlying systems and applications. These solutions can be easily implemented and easily adopted, and from the users’ perspective they simply continue to hit the ‘print’ button. Law firms can manage their brand effectively, ensuring they offer clients a consistent customer experience across all communications platforms.
Where documents absolutely need to be sent in hard copy format, document distribution solutions ensure these documents are presented to the print room with cleaned addresses and are pre-sorted to maximise postal carrier discounts and further reduce costs.