I have said before that becoming paperless is a mindset. It is not about the technology, though you will need technology to accomplish it. Further, it is not about getting rid of paper in your life. If you are an attorney, there will still be paper in your life. Instead, it is about deciding that you no longer want to be a slave to the paper. It is about deciding that you will handle your documents electronically, rather than as paper.
As I look back on my career, I now see the first baby step that I took toward becoming paperless. I had been practicing for a few years and, like most other attorneys that I knew, I took a copy of the court file with me to each court appearance. Further, unless the case file was exceptionally large, I took a copy of the entire file. One day, while my back was hurting from lugging case files around, I asked myself why I was carrying the entire file. I quickly realized that I had no good reason.
From that day forth, when I went to court, I took with me only the documents that I thought might be necessary for that court appearance. Often, that is only a copy of the last order entered in the case. In doing this, I quickly learned the joy of freedom over my paper. I also realized that I have never once ended up in court wishing that I had my entire case file rather than the documents that I selected to bring with me.
That realization is similar to the same sense of freedom that I had once I decided to create a paperless office. I realized that I could control the paper, not the other way around.
Becoming paperless does take some time, however, it is not rocket science. Anyone who can manage law school and the bar exam can handle converting their office to a paperless office.
Recently, Ernie the Attorney posted a great primer on The 3 Phases of Becoming Paperless. In his post, Ernie takes you through the three phases of becoming paperless: (1) Optimize your digital skills in general; (2) Keep digital information in digital form; and (3) Learn to digitize information.
I cannot argue with anything Ernie says in this post. Instead, what I will say is that the new year is often the time that people make resolutions. This is my suggestion to you: If you do not currently run a paperless office, go read Ernie’s post, find out where you are in his three phases, and commit to taking the next step. Change takes some time. However, don’t be afraid of taking that first step. Except for firing a toxic employee, I can’t think of a single thing that you can do to improve the efficiency of your office more than converting your office to a paperless office.
I believe this and I live this. If you are thinking about going paperless and you still aren’t sure where to start or what to do, shoot me an email or give me a call. I will be happy to answer your questions.