When I was at Werksmans I used to joke that the firm owns a portion of the Amazon Rain Forest when I looked at how much paper the firm consumes. There were (and probably still are) files that are 30 to 60cm thick with drafts of agreements and correspondence. I think believe that the situation at most other firms is very different and all this points to a challenge for law firms. How can this documentation be better managed and, at the same time, how can less paper and other resources be used? Another challenge is how to make all that information more useful to the firm as a whole. This latter challenge is really a knowledge management issue. I often found myself wondering why the knowledge of each lawyer wasn’t made available to everyone in the firm in a more effective manner.
Computer Weekly has an article about how implementing a comprehensive knowledge management system has saved the law firm, SJ Berwin, around £700,000 per year in storage costs for all the paper. It has also made all that knowledge more widely accessible to the rest of the firm in a more meaningful way:
A growing volume of e-mails, held separately to the paper files and other electronic documents, increased the risk that case files would be incomplete.
The law firm installed the WorkSite legal document management system from Interwoven, which brings all case documents into a single searchable file. The system allows professionals across the firm’s offices to share repositories of case information, containing more than six million electronic documents, scanned images and e-mails.
The new system means administrative staff no longer have to print and file thousands of e-mails and supports compliance, security and disaster recovery policies. The electronic system is producing savings of £700,000 a year in storage costs.
SJ Berwin’s IT director, Simon Kosminsky, said, “Interwoven WorkSite allows us to provide significantly better and more flexible service to clients – any lawyer receiving an urgent call at 2am can deal with problems instantly, without the need to return to the office or carry cumbersome folders home.???