In today’s Managing Partners Roundtable, we talked about the costs of digitizing all files the firm maintains. One partner suggested that failure to do so might result in malpractice allegations. This is an interesting concept, one that I don’t believe has yet taken hold.

Cons: Expensive, time consuming, lawyers must be involved to determine which file matters can be "cleansed" and tossed, files must be taken apart to scan, decisions on what hard copy to toss now and what to save (and for how much longer)

Pros: Reduction in amount of real estate needed to store files, lower cost of occupancy resulting from a conversion, searchability by keyword rather than memory, one time investment.

Several years ago, a Chicago law firm began this process by scanning documents through a photocopy machine. Their contract provided for payment only when paper was copied and printed, not just scanned. Thus, this segment had limited cost. Disabled people were employed to do the work, thus enabling the firm to do well by doing good, and maintain its cost of labor at a lower cost than would have resulted with its own personnel. The entire process was conducted in the evening so the normal workflow of the firm was not disrupted. This firm was ahead of its time in this process.

In today’s meeting, I learned of a major firm that completed this project last year at a rather high cost. But, the investment was believed to be essential to an efficient future operation of the firm. And, of course, younger lawyers are so conversant with the electronic world that some seldom even touch paper anymore.

Technology has and will continue to have a major impact on the efficiency of the delivery of legal services and the costs to clients.