Scanning paper documents to digital files carries a number of universal benefits no matter what industry your organization is in. Document scanning is especially useful for the legal vertical, where ongoing litigation and tricky retention policies are common. We're glad to help you understand the advantages, but always be sure to consult your governing guidelines and your clients before committing to anything that may involve document destruction.
Document Scanning for Litigation
Dealing with mountains of paper for an ongoing case is a monumental task. Even for small projects, scanning those files into a digital format (usually PDF or TIF, depending on preference or software) makes searching for pertinent information much easier, saving time and costs for interns and paralegals.
Once legal documents are scanned in, optical character recognition, or OCR, can render each digital page searchable by keywords or phrases. Not only is discovery much easier with OCRed documents, but electronic document management software (EDMS) makes finding privileged material and applying redactions for opposing counsel a snap.
To top it off, sharing and transporting documents is effortless when the entirety of your case is stored on a small, portable hard drive or flash drive, rather than spread out across voluminous filing cabinets, Redwelds and folders.
Read More: What is Document Indexing?
Document Scanning for Archival
Even once the case is complete, that's not the end of your documents. As a general rule, the Connecticut Bar Association mandates that documents should be retained for six years (with specified and unspecified exceptions, of course). Depending on your clientbase, caseload, the size of your office and other factors, these documents that you are must maintain can quickly swallow storage space whole.
Thankfully, the CBA does stipulate that high quality, reproducible electronic copies can stand in for original paper documents, and that, with exceptions of course, the original paper documents can be destroyed, freeing up valuable office space. If the original documents are to be destroyed, A&A Office Systems recommends scanning in at at least 300 dpi and color-for-color to ensure clarity.
In addition to freeing space, scanned documents for archival can be easily backed up for disaster recovery and business continuity. And, in the event that archived document must be located, an intern or paralegal isn't stuck rummaging through banker's boxes or filing cabinets. The document can instead be retrieved quickly from the comfort of ther desk.
Recouping the cost of document scanning during an ongoing case may be possible by billing to the client, but scanning backfiles in a file or storage room, on the other hand, is probably an operational expense. This investment, though, pays off in the long run with workflow efficiency and reclaimed square footage. Either way, the value in scanning for law offices is apparent: Cost and time savings while remaining within compliance regulations.
It should be noted that while we here at A&A Office Systems enjoy a great working relationship with a number of law firms across Connecticut and aim to provide the best office technology solutions in the industry, we are not ourselves lawyers and our guidance should not be considered binding legal advice. Always be sure to consult your industry's governing guidelines and to confer with your clients before embarking on a project that may result in the destruction of physical files!