Copiers and multifunction printers are a commonplace item in law firms. Whether you’re running a small legal practice or are part of a large firm, copiers are not a luxury, but a true need for legal professionals.
Choosing the best copier for a law office is important, and just picking the least expensive, or the one on sales can have costly consequences that will be felt not only by legal assistants and administrative staff, but also by counsel and clients. In the long run, the right copier or multifunction printer is an investment that will pay dividend in efficiency and speed.
Let’s consider first that law firms have specific needs: federal courts, just like state courts, are now allowing e-filing. Some court systems, like the California Court System, are now mandating e-filing for specific case types: Santa Cruz Superior Court has made e-filing mandatory for civil, family and probate cases, for example. This means that your firm will need to scan paper case files.
Scanning legal documents presents challenges: you want a multifunction printer with scanning capabilities that allows for fast scanning of documents in different sizes, but you also must ensure that the information you’re scanning remains secure (did you know that copiers actually retain memory of the documents processed by the machine?) and, in some cases, that your process is in compliance with local laws.
You also need a solution that allows your law firm to track and expense these processes. Bates stamping, scanning to email, security features, and more are crucial capabilities your copier needs to deliver to your office.
Just picking the least expensive copier isn’t enough: due diligence is as important in a multifunction printer or office copier as for any other business investment decision. Make sure you go through this list and check your boxes diligently, before you pick your next office copier.
Scanning Capacity & Speed
Capturing document scans is a memory-intensive process for law firms. Make sure your copier has fast scanning capabilities, and that it is able to store images for large legal files. Make sure you investigate whether document management software is available on your machine, or what upgrades are available for it. An ideal solution will save physical space in your office and make document access a lot easier, by allowing your paralegal staff to simply keyword-search for documents and case file.
Make sure you ask your consultant for scan speed options. Contact Offix today and let us put you in touch with a few law firms we’ve helped in the past, so you can hear from them, directly, what solution has worked for them.
Your legal practice will deal mostly with 8.5×11 (letter) and 8.5×14 (legal). But you should ask yourself if your document needs cover other sizes (11×17, for example). Paying extra for a printer that can handle unusual sizes might make sense if you come across them often enough. If that’s not the case, the occasional odd-sized document can be handled by outside vendors as a more cost-effective solution.
Document Management and Workflow Integration
Document management software can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars a year. Did you know that the average professional spends an average of 18 minutes locating a document? Multiply that by the number of searches for each of your paralegal, administrative and legal staff, and you’ll understand why a solution line Canon’s uniFLOW could save you a lot of money. uniFLOW allows your copiers to become an extension of your workforce, to save you money and time, and by providing accurate reporting on print and scan jobs.
Compliance and Security
Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must be met when handling medical information. Residential real estate transactions are regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Look for copiers capable of allowing print job release at the printer to avoid allowing print jobs to sit uncollected (and viewable by anyone) in the copier output tray. And don’t forget the copier hard drive – follow network security protocols and ensure that the hard drive is secured or erased periodically. Properly set up, copiers enhance document security.
A copier is nothing, if it does not provide the output speed you need. You need a machine that can keep up with your staff pressing needs and make your law firm more efficient. We know how much paper is output by a legal practice, and how important meeting deadlines is.
Numbers speak for themselves: if your law office prints 2,500 pages per day, having a 25 page-per-minute machine will require more than an hour and forty minutes of continuous operation to complete its work. Is that time well spent?
Another often-forgotten issue is high capacity paper storage: imagine how long it takes your staff to open a new ream of paper, open the drawer to refill it and restart the job that probably was interrupted by the out-of-paper warning.
Spend Less on Document Storage
Research shows that filling and maintain a four-drawer paper filing cabinet costs as much as $25,000. Count the number you have in your law office. Digitization of your files improves your practice efficiency by saving space but, most importantly, by making document access faster and more accurate.
Make sure you choose an office copier that does more than just print copies: it could become the central point of your document management system.
Maintenance and peace of mind
Finally, let’s not forget about the cost of running after copier maintenance, and the repercussions of not careful consideration given to your maintenance partner. Choose a partner who performs regular preventive maintenance and, better-yet, one who is able to implement remote monitoring of your equipment, to make sure a technician is dispatched even before you know there’s anything wrong with your equipment.
Choose a plan that works for you: from auto replenishment of your toner to loaner machines, ask your partner if they offer several types of maintenance plans or if they are a one-size-fits-all establishment. Finally, but probably most importantly, make sure you choose a partner that is able to provide after-hours and weekend maintenance, because no lawyer wants to find out that she can’t prepare the documents for tomorrow’s 9 am deposition because her office copier went down at 6pm, and her maintenance contractor won’t be open until (you guessed) 9 am tomorrow.