By now, I think everyone has signed (or ticked the box if your doctor uses a tablet) a HIPAA form. Most of us know it has “something” to do with privacy, but we simply sign the form and then shuffle back to a seat to await our appointment.
In the legal industry, the standards in records management are rigid. A firm must protect their clients’ interests, while also adhering to federal, state, and local regulations, plus court requirements. And if you fail to comply, it can result in loss of client confidence, malpractice suits, stiff penalties, and/or hefty fines.
So, it’s easy to see why having the right technology to serve your firm is so important – there shouldn’t be question or concern about whether or not your firm fall short in the protection of your clients’ interests and information or meet those rigid standards.
It’s a big deal – having and choosing legal document management software for your firm. Legal document management exists to serve your law firm in all of the ways above and more.
What’s the catch?
When it comes to accounts payable (AP), most organizations receive invoices from a number of digital channels (mail, fax, email, electronic data interchange - EDI, etc.), but the overwhelming majority of them are paper documents.
Though invoices may be received in various forms, a typical accounts payable process usually remains the same, following a series of steps: capture the invoice, manually key in the data, code the invoice against purchase orders or general ledger (GL) accounts, route for approval, and issue payments.
Since you and your users are only human – humans that are wrestling manual processes and shouldering an unrelenting workload – someone is inevitably going to make a mistake (most likely during data entry). When you’re working with manual AP processes, long-term storage and retention are lacking, invoices slip through the cracks, and early payment discounts are missed.
And no, hiring more people – unfortunately – won’t solve these issues; that wouldn’t be feasible or sustainable.
But there is a solution: Process Automation.
Stop looking for “the best” copier and start looking for the copier that best fits your business’ process requirements.
We like to use the analogy of regular maintenance of your vehicle to illustrate the need for regular maintenance of your office equipment.
When it comes to selecting the right office equipment for your business, the vehicle analogy still works. For you and your family, you may need a van or an as SUV – something that has plenty of seating and space, is rated high in safety, is comfortable, but still nice to look at. But your neighbor – who has a long commute to work – may want a small car that’s extremely dependable and gets great gas mileage. Or you might just want a two-seater that hugs the curves in the road like a race car.
Want to see a lawyer (or IT director) sweat? Whisper the words “data breach” in their ear.
One way for law firms to keep themselves from becoming the next cyber victim is to make everyone in the firm a member of the “defense.” Security awareness training is a great place to start.
To add that extra layer of data security, 49% of firms having security awareness training programs in place – and for law firms with more than 350 attorneys, that number increases to 86%.
Why are law firms investing in security awareness training? Since 2009 the FBI has been warning that hackers are targeting law firms.
The majority of law firms typically process thousands of paper documents every year. Documents that are anything from pleadings, motions, and evidence files to contracts, leases, wills, and trusts – it’s a lot of paper.
The majority of those paper documents and that information are handled through manual processes – inefficient manual processes.
And even though documents hold such a high importance in the legal industry, they still continue to be the source of problems for firms. Law firms still haven’t solved their document challenges – according to ABA’s Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims, the activity generating the most claims against firms is preparation, filing, and transmittal of documents.
In the legal industry, in order for a document to be admissible in court it must be in a format that cannot be altered without leaving an electronic trail.
There are multiple options when it comes to formatting a file that is unalterable (TIFF, JPEG, or GIF), but they don’t leave an electronic trail. You can scan and save print documents to these formats and save born digital documents to these formats as well. However there is one option that is the most economical and the most practical – PDF.
To put it simply, as an electronic document that is read only and that will leave an electronic trail if altered, PDF meets the needs for legal admissibility in court.
There are a few reasons why converting documents to a PDF format (especially in the legal field) is a good, and often the best, option.
Most of us have been to some sort of live event – concert, play, a game, or a race – we don’t often think about it but we know that a ton of preparation and behind the scenes work went into making that event run smoothly.
That’s the importance of your job as an office manager – keeping the firm operational and running smoothly. When you’re sorting through invoices, ensuring lawyers have all the information they need, and dealing with all the details and tasks in between, having to deal with manual processes is the last thing you need.
You’re flooded with paper.
With multiple people on the team needing to use the same files, you have to make – and keep up-to-date – all of the documents contained in those files. And when there are case files piled on lawyers’ desks, chairs, cabinets, and floors, it can be a tad overwhelming.
Everyone wants great service.
Satisfying customers is important in every industry – and is a top priority for law firms. When your business relies on documents – especially printed documents – you can’t afford to have your copiers idle. When they break, you need them fixed quickly before your goal of delivering excellent customer service suffers.
Just as your customers understand the old saying “time is money,” so do you (and everyone else in your office) – and so do we.
That’s why having a partner that can respond and resolve issues quickly (and accurately) is so important.
In document-intensive industries such as legal, technology can do a lot of heavy lifting for you. Technology can’t solve challenges alone – you have to understand your business processes and then be sure to select the right technology tool you’re your needs. Done correctly, technology can automate tasks – giving you time back in your day to focus on the 101 tasks you juggle.
Here’s a list of common business challenges – and potential solutions to those challenges – that can make a difference in your office.