Inside Track: Going Paperless: How to Get Started:

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    May 7, 2014 – The paperless office is a great way to make your practice more efficient and effective. In this video, Nerino Petro, State Bar practice management advisor, explains how to easily transfer your paper files to a digital format and how to avoid the most common pitfall that can make this simple process a nightmare.

    Paperless Office Oft Misunderstood

    Going paperless does not mean absolutely no paper and getting rid of file cabinets. Going paperless means reducing the amount of paper and reducing how often paper is handled in your office.

    Leave Those Old Files Alone

    “Often when a lawyer thinks about going digital, they think they should start with their closed files, also called retrospective conversion,” Petro says. “Before you do this, consider this question: How much money are those files making for you? The reality is, those files are closed and are not generating any revenue. To convert all those old files takes a lot of time, energy and effort, and by the time you are done converting them, you have stacked up hundreds of new files that you are currently billing on.”

    Let’s Get Started. What Do You Need?

    You need a computer, software to convert the files, and a scanning device. Paper files are fed into desktop and portable scanners. Using software such as Adobe Acrobat or Nitro PDF, the scanner converts your files to an electronic duplicate that is the exact image of the document.

    “Once your equipment is in place, pick a date, and from that date forward, scan any paper that comes into the office,” says Petro. “Once you have that workflow and the method for doing that, scan your open files. When you’re all done with your open files, then you can move ahead and do your retrospective conversion.

    Petro’s Tips:

    1. Some firms convert files (including those Word, WordPerfect, and Excel spreadsheets generated in your office) to PDF format to indicate they have sent that file out. This resolves the issue of having a word file and not knowing if it was actually sent to the client.

    2. Going paperless includes converting all of your electronic files – even your emails and electronic faxes. Develop a filing system for everyone in the office to follow so you can easily find files by searching your system.

    3. After converting your paper files, give them to the client and inform them that they are keeping the originals. That eliminates how much additional storage space you need to maintain for current files.

    For more information, contact Petro at org practicehelp wisbar wisbar practicehelp org.