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Banish the Paper Blizzard, Part 2: What is a Paperless Office?

Most law practices will never be truly “paperless.”

Too much of the practice of law involves creating, revising, filing, and storing paper copies of important documents for the profession to eliminate the need for paper.  However, as a profession we can choose to think intelligently about how technology can work for us.  We all use computers now to perform work that was done on typewriters in the secretary pool years ago.  The next logical step is to use computers to perform work that has traditionally belonged in the filing room.  This is what I mean when I use the term “paperless” office.

The term paperless office most accurately means intelligently trading physical storage space for virtual storage space.

Think for a moment about how many bankers’ boxes are in your office.  I suspect the number is in the hundreds, if not the thousands.  What benefit do all those boxes provide you?  How often do you rummage through one of those boxes?  Is there a better way?

A paperless office relies upon computers with high data capacity rather than offices or warehouses with vast physical space.  I imagine my firm’s hard drive array currently holds on the order of several thousand banker’s boxes worth of documents, all in a redundant package that costs less than $1,000.  How much would I have to pay to copy 1,000 boxes of documents and keep each set of boxes in separate climate-controlled storage?  I suspect the cost would easily exceed $1,000 within a matter of just a few months.