The clichéd impression of a law firm office, stacked to the ceiling with manilla files and an overflowing intray, couldn’t be further from the truth for one St Alban’s law firm.
Labrums solicitors, which celebrates 25 years in business this year, has run a paperless office for the last four years.
The company was one of the first businesses – let alone legal firms – to make the change from clutter to cloud.
Practice manager Teresa Crowley, who helped to implement the changes, said: “We still get some post, but 90 per cent of the office is paperless. We scan documents in and then destroy them.
“All our documents are sent electronically to our solicitors and clients where possible. We only use paper if we have to.
“The only documents we file are original documents such as deeds or wills – something we may need to pass on to someone else.”
The task of breaking the habit of printing, copying and filing documents was a daunting one – but one the team worked together to implement.
Teresa said: “When the company suggested it, a lot of people didn’t think it was possible.
“I had come from a paperless office at HSBC and had been through the process so I knew it was possible but there were reams of paper and files everywhere.
“I went to see another firm who had made the switch and they gave me some great advice. We formed a plan, implemented it and have never looked back.
“If you imagine an email conversation, previously every single email and reply would be printed out and a hard copy would be kept in a file for backup. Now it is all done virtually, and backed up on three separate servers. When you consider that there’s 13 people – that’s a lot of paper!
“The conveyancing files used to be about a ream thick each. There has been a big cost reduction, as well as better turn around times and speed of response.”
Labrums received a grant towards the cost of implementing the new IT system to support the transition – which is future-proofed to ensure it can grow with the business.
Teresa said: “There are also the other benefits that go with a paperless office – such as the extra space here filing cabinets would otherwise have been.
“It’s safer and more secure and there is minimal paper on the desks.
“People were initially very sceptical, but when they see the difference between our offices and some of the more traditional offices they see how antiquated they can be.
“It is a big change but it has stabilised the future of the business and it’s so easy and efficient. So much time was wasted printing, copying, filing and finding copies of things.
“We could never go back.”