Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A small firm's approach to competition -- go paperless

A small firm's approach to competition -- go paperless

Baltimore Business Journal - February 24, 2006

Attorney Adam Spence's office includes a surfboard, a framed Ray Lewis jersey, some Oriental decor, his desk, two computer screens, several law journals and one large file cabinet.

Conspicuously missing from his office in Towson are papers. You know, the piles of legal documents you would expect to find in an attorney's office. Not there.

Instead, Spence has a place he stores all documents related to his clients' cases, a place where he knows he can easily find, retrieve, copy and send those papers. That place is Spence's computer.

The Law Office of Adam Spence -- which is staffed by Spence, another attorney, a paralegal, a bookkeeper and a secretary -- is a paperless office. All documents are scanned and stored on a network system that each person in the firm can access either from the office or off-site. The firm has been that way since Spence opened his practice three years ago.

Not only does Spence say the paperless system increases his firm's productivity by saving time, it also allows him to compete with other small and midsize firms that haven't made the investment in scanning technology.

"Opposing counsel usually walks in with big boxes and files full of paper; I walk in with my laptop," said Spence, who stores his clients' paper documents in 12 files throughout his office. "Clients see the difference and they experience the difference."

Of course, the scanners and tech consultants sometimes needed to service the technology can cost thousands of dollars a year. Spence said a scanner he recently bought, which can scan about 60 pages in a minute, costs about $1,300. He paid about $180 to buy new software to view the documents, and tech consultants sometimes needed to service his system run him thousands of dollars a year, he said.

"I made a decision early on that it's worth the money," Spence said.

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