See how one Best Case® Bankruptcy customer increased efficiency by going green
Green is the new buzz word and in today’s world being environmentally conscious is essential. But did you know that there are efficiency benefits, too? Brian Small of Thav, Gross, P.C. in Bingham Farms, Michigan found that going paperless also meant he was going green. Small walked into his office six years ago and saw a stack of papers on every desk. From that day forward he decided his practice was going paperless. All files are now scanned, saved, shredded and recycled. “Go cold turkey…partially going paperless doesn’t work,” says Small. The only hard copies that are kept are the original signature documents required by the Court.
For Small’s practice, the desire to go paperless was to improve efficiency. “My staff is no longer wasting time. They know exactly where to find a document within minutes,” says Small. Electronic documents are saved within the Best Case® Bankruptcy file. “This allows all files to be accessible to every user, in chronological order,” says Small. Each employee has a personal scanner on their desk and physical documents are scanned in using BestScan™. Electronic documents from the Court are saved directly to the Best Case client file and are never printed. “If we receive a document in the morning, by the afternoon it has been scanned and uploaded to the correct file location,” says Small.
If a client contacts Small outside of normal business hours he is able to promptly respond. “A client emailed me on Saturday when I was at home and asked for a copy of an IRS document. I was able to remotely login to my office system, access that document and send it to the client because it was saved electronically. If our office wasn’t paperless, the client would’ve had to wait until Monday to get the form.”
Small also instituted dual monitors on every employee’s desk; Small himself has four. “Efficiencies have improved dramatically,” says Small. More than one monitor allows his staff to have multiple programs up at the same time, basically expanding their desktops. Even his voicemail gets sent to his email box. “When a client leaves a detailed message, I can save that .wav file to the client’s Best Case folder and make a record in the Notes window referencing the file,” says Small. Going paperless has many potential benefits including reducing waste and improving efficiency. Being able to access documents when needed, getting organized and streamlining your office workflow can aid any small firm.
Start going paperless today!
Where should you begin? George Basharis, JD, a practicing bankruptcy attorney, has compiled four tips that you should keep in mind when making the decision to go paperless.
Key Points to Remember
- Retention — In a paperless environment, all documents that you have traditionally kept in paper form need to be transferred to an electronic file folder. When beginning this daunting task, think twice before scanning all existing documentation. If documents are scheduled to be destroyed in the near future, scan only the ones that are used frequently. Concentrate on getting all paper moving forward digitized rather than taking time to scan unnecessary documents.
- Software — A benefit to going paperless is the ability to access all sorts of information in a matter of seconds without having to search your office. Practice management software will often become your file system, since everything that you relied on in your paper file must now be accessible and retrievable.
- Security — The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure formally recognize the dominance of imaging technology that has made paperless offices attainable. Rule 37(f) holds that, absent exceptional circumstances, sanctions cannot be imposed for failure to produce electronically stored information that became unavailable as a result of routine, good faith operation of a computer system. However, other disciplinary systems such as attorney ethics rules or the Court’s inherent sanction power should be considered.
- Help — Hire an external IT consultant to help with the transition. They are better equipped to assist with setting up the file structure and connecting your systems together.
Small is a partner at the law firm of Thav, Gross, P.C. in Bingham Farms, Michigan where his practice includes corporate and consumer bankruptcy, financial counseling, debt management, non-bankruptcy workouts and corporate dissolution, all under the title Financial Crisis Management. Because of his unique experience, Small is able to help any client that walks through the door, even if they don’t file bankruptcy, which translates to more satisfied clients. Small is Vice President of the Consumer Bankruptcy Association. He has lectured on various bankruptcy issues at Consumer Bankruptcy Association seminars, American Bankruptcy Institute seminars and N.A.C.T.T. seminars. He is also a frequent lecturer for the Institute for Continuing Legal Education.