The fiscal year for law firms is ending on a high note—with more to come. Thomson Reuters’ most recent data shows that a solid majority of firms (70%) predict that the moderate to high growth in demand experienced in 2021 will continue well into 2022. Regarding operational planning for 2022, the top 5 tactics law firms will take are:
More efficient real estate/rethinking space;
New practice tools to drive efficiencies;
Rationalizing secretarial support;
Improving billing and collections; and
Clearly, many if not most firms are abuzz with talk regarding a more efficient or reconfigured use of their current real estate footprint—but what does it take to achieve this vision of the future? One thing that can hold a law firm back from the new-“visioning” taking place is paper—and the shocking amount of real estate most firms currently dedicate to housing an onsite records room.
As a part of firms’ strategic thinking for 2022, firms need a strategy for onsite paper, i.e. their onsite records rooms. This is a digital records room, and it’s way past due. A digital records room is a firm-wide system of software, workflow and services, to digitize paper records to the DMS, replacing paper file rooms with a new digital operation.
A digital records room supports the firm’s strategic plan to reduce and rethink real estate by eliminating the paper footprint of records rooms and scattered file storage. It is also used to service attorneys working from home more efficiently—and does so more securely and in line with the firm’s information governance policy. Let’s dig in to these 3 reasons to build a digital records room.
1. Efficiency and Productivity of Attorneys
When records are digitized, records retrieval is transformed and dramatically improved for the end users—the attorneys. Records managers no longer must rifle through shelves to locate boxes, and then sort through to find the right manila folder to locate the actual document, taking valuable time away from the attorneys’ review.
The records are digitized typically through a scanning and cataloging process that associates keywords or matter numbers or other valuable data within a document enabling users to search on what they know to produce a list of possible matches. Results are produced in seconds or minutes versus hours, or even days.
In a hybrid operation which most firms are planning on, this process becomes even more simplified as records retrieved would need to be shipped offsite to individual attorneys’ home offices, a logistical and security nightmare.
A tertiary benefit is quickly realized through this process of digitizing records, which is that the record can be queried using a full-text searching tool. A full-text search tool can usually be combined with another search tool letting users add criteria like matter number or keyword to zero-in on the exact document needed. Not only this, but digitization helps firms unlock the the information in their matters so they become searchable. Firms are in an improved position for their knowledge management processes, and attorneys are able to search and find prior work product more quickly. This is simply not possible unless your records are digitized.
Another significant benefit of a digitized records room that directly benefits attorney’s efficiency and productivity is the ability to back up and make copies of the files. Duplicating an entire physical records room is simply not feasible. Once documents are digitized, however, they are easily copied and thus protected against accidental destruction from flood, fire, or even accidental discard.
2. Security and Information Governance
With a physical records room, the effort to share useful documents securely and within the firm’s IG policy is significant. With a physical records room, firms must apply physical security to restrict access. This means locking file cabinets, keycard systems, and other similar measures, which require time and attention. And with a physical records room, it is daunting to locate the proper files for destruction.
In a hybrid operation, the security of physical records put the firm at an even greater risk—greater risk of lost or compromised files in transit; greater risk of logistical errors, greater risk of exposure as files move through various domains not directly monitored by the firm.
With a digitized records room, a firm’s documents are cataloged using a retention schedule, and destruction of the appropriate files is simply reporting, approving and then automatically deleting files.
Once digitized, firms can apply common computer security measures to control who sees what documents. This sort of security can be organized globally, by type of document, by case, author or any other criteria as needed by the firm’s policies.
3. Real Estate Reduction
Finally, an obvious benefit of digitization is the elimination of real estate dedicated to the storing of onsite records. Law firms routinely recover hundreds or even thousands of square feet of valuable floor space when they digitize their records.
Real estate is the second biggest expense for a law firm. As firms aggressively roll out their real estate compression plans, they must eliminate the floor space required for records rooms and ad hoc paper file storage.
The majority of firms spend approximately 6-8% of gross revenue on real estate costs in major metropolitan areas. Cushman & Wakefield projects that firms will be able to save as much as 3.5% of revenue by renegotiating their leases.
Firms can run projects to digitize the existing records rooms in each city office, then apply the same solution to maintaining ongoing digitization of new paper records as they are received and used.
The concept of a digital records room has appealed to firm leadership and IG professionals for some time. Everyone understands how paper records make firms less agile. The substantial costs, risks and inefficiencies of paper records just keep accumulating. This impedes profitability and growth on many fronts. For firms that have been waiting for a business case to win the project with their executive committees, now’s the time.
DocSolid President, Steve Irons, Named as Entrepreneur to Follow 2021 for Airmail2 Digital Mailroom and Digital Records Room Solutions, Industry Wired
PHOENIX, AZ – (November 11, 2021) – DocSolid, the legal technology experts for enterprise scanning, workflow and paper reduction solutions, today announces company President, Steve Irons, has been named as an Entrepreneur to Follow in 2021 for the Airmail2 Digital Mail and Digital Records Room solutions by Industry Wired magazine.
When the pandemic sent the law firm workforce into home offices, it was critical for the attorneys to receive sensitive client information that was arriving by postal mail to their home offices. DocSolid quickly realized that a best practice digital mailroom was needed at every law firm.
The DocSolid team went to work aggressively and delivered its market leading software, Airmail2 Digital Mailroom in record time. DocSolid went through a rapid, formal product management process, talking to the customers, prospects, and partners. In just over two months, the team had its first version of software running, then released a customer-ready version as MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
Steve Irons comments: “I am proud of how our company pivoted during tough times to create and focus on the new, long term needs of our law firm partners. DocSolid’s team to completely changed our business focus to create an impact solution supporting a law firm’s hybrid work model.”
Airmail2 Digital Mailroom now solves the critical problem of digital daily mail delivery in the permanent model of hybrid law firm operations. This forward-thinking, best of breed solution provides direct delivery of scanned postal mail to firms’ document management systems (DMS), where sensitive information can be properly secured, governed, and processed. This approach overcomes the unsecure and unproductive methods of scan to email attachments. Attorneys, practice groups and administrative operations can set automated distribution rules for inbound mail items, matching the firm’s workflow preferences.
The companion solution, Airmail2 Digital Records Room, is a firm-wide system of software and workflow to digitize paper records to iManage. Airmail2 Digital Records Room replaces paper file rooms to facilitate real estate reduction plans and enables efficient digital delivery of file requests for attorneys working from home.
“Today, the Airmail2 Suite is DocSolid’s comprehensive solution to help firms securely, reliably and efficiently deliver legal documents to a distributed workforce and to socially distanced in-house teams,” said Steve Irons. “Together, Digital Mailroom and Digital Records Room drive matter governance and eliminate the cost and risk of paper records. In these times Airmail2 enables digital transformation for law firms.”
Learn more about Airmail2 Digital Mailroom and Digital Records Room here.
DocSolid creates, sells and supports Paper2Digital® solutions for optimized scanning, printing, and shredding. These patented solutions are enterprise-level implementations deployed with unmatched consulting expertise to reduce the costs, risks and inefficiencies of paper records for leading law firms and corporate legal departments. Thousands of users worldwide rely on DocSolid powered workflows integrated with iManage, NetDocuments, OpenText eDOCS, Worldox, SharePoint, Thomson Elite, Aderant, Filetrail, LegalKey and Chrome River. For more information, please visit www.docsolid.com.
Learn more about Steve Irons’ Feature in Industry Wired here.
Industry Wired: Steve Irons Transforming the Legal Industry with Digital Documentation Solutions
Steve Irons is the Founder and CEO of DocSolid, a legal technology company that creates enterprise scanning, workflow and paper reduction solutions, i.e. DocSolid’s Paper2Digital® solutions. These patented Paper2Digital solutions are enterprise-level implementations deployed with unmatched consulting expertise to reduce the costs, risks and inefficiencies of paper records for leading law firms and corporate legal departments.
In an interview with IndustryWired, Steve explains how DocSolid swiftly created new software for the market during the onset of the pandemic to help law firm clients digitize daily mail and records room operations, mission critical functions in a law firm or legal department. The new software is DocSolid’s Airmail2 Digital Mail + Records Suite, and it transforms a firm’s paper-based mailroom and records room functions into streamlined, digital operations supporting work-from-home and return-to-office strategies.
Transitioning Law Firms: A Paper2Digital Transformation
DocSolid is an 11-year-old company that focuses on one mission— to help law firms through a Paper2Digital transformation. Historically, law firms are an entrenched paper-based operation because paper has long been the preferred medium of its producers of work product: the attorneys. Transitioning away from this long history changes the relationship to their craft. DocSolid provides the change management required to gain the buy-in from the attorneys, which is pivotal, as well as patented methods to manage scanning, printing and shredding in law firms, all tightly integrated with leading document management systems.
An Entrepreneur with a Digital Mindset
Steve Irons is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of DocSolid. He started DocSolid with the intention of addressing the burden of paper for law firms and, to date, the company has accrued 14 patents on the methods that the team uses for managing paper digitally. The most important thing about DocSolid’s patented technology is that it innovates in its marketplace to fix real problems. Over the years, the team has learned a lot about how to help law firms by building innovative technology that helps to eliminate paper from their existing processes.
Early Success and Driving Market Demand
Prior to the pandemic, DocSolid drove much of its own market demand by evolving a broad set of technologies and Paper2Digital solutions for law firms. At that time, it was a truism that about half of the attorneys still preferred working with paper. DocSolid’s methods were generally about changing the operations behind, underneath, around, without asking the firms to change personal behaviour— and the company has had success with that approach. Four of the top ten law firms in the US have Paper2Digital projects with DocSolid, as do many, many others. However, it was a highly bespoke business proposition every time. The team was capable of repeating the solutions but were tailored for each law firm, sometimes to each office.
Paving the Way During the Pandemic: WFH Solutions
The pandemic sent the law firm workforce into home offices and, initially, everybody worked hard to make that process stable, secure, and productive. DocSolid quickly realized that the only efficient method was to go digital, as it was critical for the attorneys to receive sensitive client information that was arriving by postal mail to their home offices.
Law firms had started to address this by building own makeshift digital mailrooms— scanning mail and delivering it as email attachments, which is unsecure and time-consuming for the receiving attorney. DocSolid has core expertise around helping firms manage the transition from paper to digital and this now includes building a new standardized digital mailroom for the law firms. The team went to work on it aggressively and delivered its market leading software in record time. In addition to the digital mailroom, the company has now launched a companion digital records room. The digital records room lets firms digitize their records rooms to enable removing paper footprints in each office as firms are now shrinking their offices in conjunction with the permanent work-from-home (WFH) posture that’s settling in.
Understanding the Target Market: A Drive to Success
Steve Irons is proud of how the company was able to pivot during these tough times. The team was able to completely change the business focus and create an impact solution for the target market. DocSolid went through a rapid, formal product management process, talking to the customers, prospects and partners. In a few short months, the team had its first version of software rolled out by working on that for about two months, then released the second version as MVP (Minimal Viable Product). The company listened to customer feedback and really stepped up their game, and the solution is evolving quickly as the company builds its base of customers and feedback loop.
Innovating with Expertise in the Normal Now
Airmail2Digital Mailroom and Digital Records Room were born in the pandemic. DocSolid saw what was happening and reacted by applying their expertise and courage. The company was remarkable in its ability to create a new solution as the team was dodging the COVID-19 bullet and suffering the same business slowdown as many small companies. The team envisioned that law firms would start believing that a large portion of the workforce wasn’t going to return to the downtown office, even in the post-pandemic times. They would need permanent digital mailrooms and the floor space dedicated to paper records would become an intolerable expense as they started to shrink their offices and their real estate budgets. Firms are making decisions about sustainable new operations adjusted for what DocSolid calls the “Normal Now”.
Losing Our Religion to Create Something New
Steve Irons does not give up easily. Before the pandemic, the company was experiencing incremental– but not breakthrough–success and he kept grinding. The team had to change their previous belief system in order to put forth a new category of solution that was much more targeted and tactical and back office. It was a big change— the team called it “losing our religion”— but the DocSolid team had to turn all efforts from concentrating on traditional solutions to create something new and risky.
A Paper2Digital Future
DocSolid believes that approximately 40% of the law firm workforce will work from home moving forward. New productivity methods, staffing models and standards will emerge and have to be built into best practices and sustainable solutions. Right now, law firms need to pay increasing attention to security and information governance. DocSolid is perfectly situated. The company jumped into that pool and started swimming with their law firm customers, helping them to digitize their records rooms and stay digital going forward. All firms were running paper mail rooms. Most firms still have records rooms but the intense need for real estate compression and distributed workforce won’t allow either anymore.
Every day is fun for DocSolid and another opportunity to innovate. Steve Irons looks out and observes a tremendous digital wave and the company is riding it forward. DocSolid intends to use their new solutions to be the innovative technology partner a law firm needs for its paper-to-digital transformation.