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ABA TECHSHOW 2008: Eliminating the Paper Chase: From Boxes to Bytes (Paperless Office Track)

By Mazyar Hedayat | Sunday, March 16, 2008


Presenters: Paul Unger and Debbie Foster
Thursday, March 13 at 8:30 am

TechShow board members Paul Unger of HMU Consulting and Debbie Foster of inTouch Legal spoke to a capacity crowd of small-office and solo lawyers, many of them refugees from large firms who needed to unlearn then relearn a host of practice skills.

Using a short but informative PowerPoint presentation, the speakers explored the following paperless office topics:

Return on Investment
Eliminate the need to retype pleadings. Scan all your incoming documents, and scan and store existing documents. Pay attention to storage and security for all your files. Searching for files versus finding them.

Formats: PDF (Portable Document Format) Versus TIF (Tagged Image Format)
PDF for office use, TIF for trial presentations. Use JPG for photographs and graphics. TWAIN functionality in your scanner ensures interoperability.

Hardware Options
Fujitsu ScanSnap ($350-$500) — entry-level model.
Fujitsu 6140C ($1,500-$2,000) — fastest, quietest.
Canon ScanFront 220 ($1,800-$2,200) — new kid on the block, no computer needed.

Paul prefers scanners connected to a computer because of increased functionality. He listed the Canon ScanFront 220 to solicit feedback from the audience, but typically uses the Fujitsu line with his clientele.

1. Typical Workflow: Begin with a Fujitsu ScanSnap or any good sheet-fed scanner (200-300 dpi). Convert to PDF and recognize text via OCR (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Professional 8 or OmniPage). Send output to a document management tool (e.g. Worldox) or search for what you  need later using Google Desktop Search or Copernic.

2. Scan for Efficiency: Start with all incoming mail on a given day and scan/OCR it into a dedicated, dated mail folder for each firm member. The folder should reside centrally or be available online so it can be accessed anytime by the firm member who can  then review and distribute mail to those who need to process it. Do the same with phone message slips, sticky-notes, etc. to render them  electronic and searchable.

As an aside and as someone whose small law firm uses such a system, I suggest tagging each scanned document to organize and search later via Google Desktop or Copernic.

Savings: Less on-site storage space can save thousands per year.

Low Cost: Convert documents to searchable PDF for as little as 3 cents/page if outsourced, and much less if you do the scanning yourself.

Software: Acrobat Professional, ABBYY FineReader, OmniPage

Search: Entry-level search choices include Google Desktop and Copernic Desktop Search.

Storage/Backup: Swappable hard drives onsite plus an online backup service for offsite protection in the event of a fire, natural disaster, etc.

Document Management System: Worldox or Interwoven WorkSite, etc.

Read more firsthand reports from ABA TechShow 2008.

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Topics: Business Productivity/Word Processing | Copiers/Scanners/Printers | Dictation/OCR/Speech Recognition | Trade Show Reports
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