Leading regional legal firm digitises matters to improve internal processes and free-up precious space with the help of DSS Connect Scan
New South Wales firm, Silkman Austen Brown, is a well-established and bustling, regional legal practice. Its history is well-entrenched in the landscape of both Broken Hill and Dubbo where the firm grew and evolved. Today, the mid-sized firm prides itself on delivering a comprehensive range of quality legal services that include criminal law, commercial and business law, personal law as well as employment and taxation law across both its regional offices.
Highly committed to the need of its clients and focused on its day-to-day legal matters, the firm was keen to embrace technology that would release staff from the drudgery and inefficiency of having to print and store paper-based matter documents. The ability to digitise documents would also help the firm back scan past matters and free-up much needed office space, and allow for fast access to records, while minimising costs.
To help the firm become increasingly electronic and therefore paperless, Silkman Austen Brown turned to Dynamic Software Solutions (DSS) Connect Scan software. A next next-generation, cloud-based scanning solution that easily integrates with legal practice management software such as LEAP, DSS Connect Scan allows firms to convert paper matters into electronic documents to help them save both time and money while achieving more efficient processes.
Challenge 1: Eliminate the need for printed client matter files and improve internal processes
“We deal with a large volume of case matters on a daily basis, and as our firm expanded, our case matters increased. Each matter file contains numerous documents, from Post-it notes to correspondence, transcripts, reports, legal notes and so on. Printing the various documents to create a paper matter file and then having to add to it as the case develops is onerous and time-consuming. It’s also painful because every time we need access to a file it means physically locating it and pulling out the relevant papers,” explained Simone Armstrong, Practice Manager, Silkman Austen Brown.
Paper matter files were also hampering internal working processes across the firm’s two offices. “We have an office in Dubbo and Broken Hill, but the paper matter file resides at only one of the offices. If lawyers from both offices are working on a matter, a flurry of emails with attachments is required for the lawyers to be able to review and consult on issues, which is a drag on both time and productivity,” said Simone.
Solution: With the implementation of DSS Connect Scan, staff at Silkman Austen Brown are now able to scan all paper documents to create digital matter files, eliminating the need for paper-based case files.
“DSS Connect Scan is a very simple, easy to use scanning solution that seamlessly integrated with our legal practice management software, LEAP. It lets us quickly scan documents using our multi-function printer and then allocate them directly into digital matter files via LEAP. The whole process is painless and fast and requires less paper as everything now gets scanned to the file,” says Simone.
In addition, DSS Connect Scan has also helped make the firm’s internal processes far more efficient. “Our ability to now access digital matter files means we no longer waste time trying to locate physical, current matter files. At the touch of a button, we can access the relevant record.”
“And it does not matter whether we are working from the Dubbo or Broken Hill office, we can access files regardless of where we are located. Better still, colleagues can access and review the same file simultaneously for greater collaboration. This was particularly advantageous during COVID19 when many of us were working from home, as we could remain productive,” explained Simone.
Challenge 2: Back-scan past matters to free-up office space and reduce storage costs
Another challenge that Silkman Austen Brown faced was the need to back-scan past matters to free-up much-needed office space and reduce associated storage costs.
“Many years ago, we had installed compactus in which to store our completed paper-based matter files. The compactus took up three offices but as our firm grew we needed to convert this space back into offices, which meant that we either digitise our past matter files or store them externally,” said Simone.
According to Simone, the use of a compactus was also clumsy and inefficient as every time a past matter file was required it meant having to physically locate and retrieve the file from the compactus.
“The use of the space for storage rather than as offices also meant that the space was unproductive and an expense. The ability to convert it back into productive space would help us generate revenue,” said Simone.
Solution: With DSS Connect Scan to LEAP implemented, the firm gradually scanned their past paper-based matters and converted them into digital files. The compactus was removed and the space transformed into offices.
“All our past matters that were in the compactus are now available electronically and will stay in our system forever. Records can be retrieved instantaneously at any time and from anywhere. The process is fast, easy and highly efficient,” says Simone.
DSS Connect Scan also proved to be a cost-effective solution for Silkman Austen Brown. “We had considered storing our completed matters externally but this can be costly as you need to pay monthly storage fees for each box of records. And if you need to retrieve a record you pay to retrieve the box and return it to storage. If you choose to destroy the box after 7 years, this also comes at a cost, and often the cost of destruction is more expensive than retaining the box. When we weighed everything up it was clear that DSS Connect Scan is a far more inexpensive option. The software also requires no additional hardware such as servers because it is cloud-based, which also makes the solution economically attractive,” explained Simone.
The space that was once occupied by the compactus is now filled with staff and genuinely productive as colleagues are busy working on client matters.
DSS Connect Scan also comes with an integrated cost recovery capability that allows firms to charge for the cost of digitised documents to help ensure the solution is either cost neutral or revenue positive. Firms can also choose to implement OCR Document Conversion. This feature converts documents on the fly to Word, Excel, PDF text searchable and other formats for quick and easy access to text.
The benefits of implementing DSS Connect Scan have been significant for Silkman Austen Brown. It has allowed the firm to embrace technology and digitise its day-to-day matters to improve internal processes and achieve greater productivity. It has also allowed the firm to back-scan completed matters to free-up office space, gain easy access to records and minimise costs.