This year I have worked with multiple legal firms on projects that have significantly improved their ability to focus on what matters – clients! Each of the firms were different – their areas of practice, size, softwares being used, and so on – but essentially, all were suffering the same symptoms of a tedious, inefficient process. A process that was consumed with shuffling papers, time-consuming filing and the peeling & sticking of labels – you know those labels, the ones that always seem to jam up the copy machine. You may think this comes with the territory; It’s just part of running an office. But really, all this is unnecessary busy-work that’s hogging precious resources: Money, Time and Energy. When evaluating the workload and processes with these firms, it became evident that if we could free up these resources, they could be used to attract more clients, bill more time, and provide better service to the clients.
Case #1: The Frustration of the Manual & Repetitive Process
Client comes in for a meeting. Sit down, discuss needs, fill out the appropriate documents, walk client to the door, say goodbye…then what? The real work starts. For that 30-minute meeting, there are generally hours worth work for the entire staff. In this Firm’s case, it was about a manual and repetitive process that would take 3X the time it should.
There was the absorbant amount of time spent standing at the office copier – scanning or copying for each client or case. Scanning would consist of scanning to an email – and if there needed to be multiple files, then there was the scanning, waiting to send, rechoosing of setting, scanning, waiting….you get the idea. Then the pleasure of getting back to the computer to open each file, check & proof, close, rename, open the case-management software, find the case, then the matter, click import, search for file, click upload….wait. Oh, I forgot – as they often did – to manually write what was done at the copier in the log book. And of course, someone was going to have to manually enter all this in the billing software later. For reference, forms were being created in WordPerfect, case-management software was Time Matters by LexisNexis, billing was Tabs3, and files were stored in Adobe pdf. Of course, a professional version of Adobe was needed for any removal of blank pages, bates stamping, page numbers, etc.
So what would happen if we could make the first-step in this process the only step? If we could scan directly from the copier into the matter number of the right case? If any editing needed could be done right at a full-color, iPad style touchscreen prior to scanning or copying? If one big stack could be auto-divided into multiple files, and even auto-named? If all work at the copier was automatically captured and provided to the billing software with rates the Firm chose? I can tell you what happenned…the staff rejoiced, billing increased, billing errors decreased, project completion times dropped by 50%, and the ability to take on more clients without adding additional staff or working longer hours was created!
This was done in a matter of hours. Even better, it was done for less than what they were already spending on their monthly copier lease. The whole conversion process consisted of an hour meeting with the Firm Administrator, a short online survey I created for the staff, and an installation of new Sharp copiers that took about 2-hours – and never resulted in a single minute of downtime.