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Chapter 7 - Managing Litigation Information Using Technology

Implementing Office IT
Paperless archives - Reno, Nev. Bankruptcy lawyer Geoff Giles, for one, has been using a peripheral document scanner for two years to archive bankruptcy petitions, discharges and other paperwork. Giles can feed the documents into his Visioneer Paperport scanner and have them stored immediately on his computer’s hard drive. “ This makes them accessible in 60 seconds, compared to the 20 minutes it would take a legal assistant to dig the hard copy file out of the basement,” he says. March 1998, ABA Journal

Initial Paperless Office Issues for the Solo Practitioner. The paper-free workplace has been one of the great-unfulfilled promises of the information age. It has been argued that it is a simple task and one just needs to buy some hardware and software and go paperless. Well, it is more difficult then that, but there have been law office successes in reducing the amount of paper and managing the paper for current and archived cases. The most successful conversions from paper have been internal, such as replacing memos with e-mail, while retaining papers for letters and essential outside communications.

There are several issues that must be addressed as you move to a paperless office system. One of the important issues is the workflow process in your office. Scanning documents into a computer instead of filing them in a folder will impact manual procedures and personnel job duties. Also, you need to define how imaging will be used in your firm. Will it be used for administrative matters, or case related matters or both? How many documents will there be initially? What is the document flow for the imaged documents? What image retrieval software will work best with your firm’s hardware and case management software? Does your firm presently have imaging software? Are you running DOS or Windows? Will the selected software run on your system without upgrading the hardware and software? As you can see, there are many issues to address as you begin the transformation to a digital office.

The following are some initial hardware and software considerations for a sole practitioner considering a paperless office.

Sole Practitioner Hardware and Software Considerations

Desktop computer  
Hard drive Maximum amount of storage - digital information requires a lot of storage space
CD-Rom Jukeboxes To access online legal libraries, and archived files
Flatbed scanner To scan odd sized pieces of paper, photos, etc
Multi sheet feeder scanner To scan multi page documents and OCR
Sound system  
Video camera and software To take still and video clips of case evidence
CD-R drive or DVD Drive
To write CD-ROMs of up to 650 Megabyte of information from a hard drive. DVD's can hold up to 5 Gigabytes of data.
Laser printer  
Inkjet color printer  
Case management Case management considerations - must be designed to handle digital paperless office functions and procedures such as document assembly, phone, management, incoming and outgoing document management.
Document Management If case management system does not have a document management component check into a system like Worldox.
Office Suite Microsoft or WordPerfect
Windows - latest version  
Library - CD-Collection Westlaw or Lexis-nexus

Remember, the conversion to a digital office is a process and will not occur overnight. However, be assured that it is only a matter of time that we will become a paperless society.


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