It has been a while since I have posted under the "Law Office Management" tab, and in that time we've renovated a building and moved into it. But one of the things that hasn't changed - even though we have just a little bit of storage space now (as long as the thing to be stored fits into a shoe box) - is that our office is pretty aggressively paperless. That's easy to do with a substantial federal court practice because virtually everything other than the occasional paper copy of discovery responses comes in electronic format already, but there are still more than a few paper documents that need to be inputted - lately that's primarily hearing and trial notes. While we have a large copier/printer/scanner that can scan in bulk for discovery and state court documents, I had been reading a lot of good things about a desktop sheet-fed scanner, so I tried one out a few months back, and I can't say enough good things about it. (Why take notes on paper? Well, I have tried taking them on the iPad, and frankly, while I can two-finger type almost as fast as I can scribble, I cannot switch between letters and numbers nearly fast enough to keep up. Best example is status conferences - I simply can't type dates fast enough. Some hearings I have done it, but that's usually when I have a client or cocounsel that isn't there and wants a report immediately. But usually I use the iPad to look at the case documents and take notes on paper).
I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 that I keep on my credenza, usually in closed mode, where it looks like a loaf of bread with aluminum poisoning. When I need it, I pop the covers open and the software starts up and I can immediately scan anything from individual pages to a multipage document. I then save the files into the appropriate folder (often into the "Home Filing" subfolder in my DropBox folder - otherwise usually to my desktop where I then drag and drop them where I want them). Where I've found this to be really useful lately is in getting hearing and trial notes into the case file immediately (last month I usually scanned the morning's notes during the lunch break) so that the notes are available in the courtroom on my iPad. The quality (and speed) is better than the office scanner and even better than the new all-in-one we have in the Tyler office. I am told that it doesn't do as well with photos so I still scan them on the bed scanner, but it's done just fine slowly digitizing the paper files at home. For example, this morning I brought a stack of home filing that I scanned in while waiting on e-mails and saved each to the home filing folder. (Technically I am just transferring the pile of unfiled paper from my in box at home to my home filing folder on the computer, but all happiness requires a little denial, right?) Yesterday morning I brought in a short stack of documents I collected during a week in trial and scanned them into the "Trial" subfolder for the case, then shredded or trashed the originals.
The unit is portable, and comes with a bag with a shoulder strap. To make it easy to pack up and go, I have it plugged into a desktop lamp's AC, and a desktop USB outlet (see photo) so that the power and USB cables stay coiled and can quickly be stuffed into the bag, and I don't have to move the credenza every time I plug it in.
The unit also scans business cards, which can then be edited and saved into Outlook, but the processing software for that is extremely slow, and it takes quite a while to get the information transferred, so while it's a good solution to digitize those cards in your desk drawer, it's not an easy way to get them into your contacts - frankly, it's quicker to dictate or retype. Or just hunt up the person's v-card.
I highly recommend it if you're trying to get rid of paper - if it isn't easy to scan it, you probably won't do it. And it doesn't get much easier than this. The ease of access also means that you'll probably scan enough to get your own scan protocols down - what you call documents, where you save them, and so forth. I noticed that today - I have started saving every document using the date first, then a description. Same thing with notes - I use note pads with topic, date, and so forth boxes, so when I scan the document, I capture that data in the document file so I know how to search for it later if I need it. And since the document can be immediately available on the iPad that sits across the credenza from it, the utility of the paper remains.
Later this week (or next week) I'll get around to the the iPad post I meant to do a year and a half ago, and some really neat programs I've found for it for use in a law office.