1 Presented by: Sam W. Irby Attorney at Law Irby & Heard, P.C. Fairhope, Alabama
2 What is a paperless office? The term "paperless office" means different things to different people. The term "paperless office" does not mean literally that there will be absolutely no paper in our office. However, our goal is to substantially limit the amount of paper we use and rely more on the computer. A paperless office is an office at which the use of paper is eliminated or wisely used. Going paperless saves money, boosts productivity, saves space, and makes electronic documentation and information sharing easier. Going paperless changes the way you practice law and in some cases your lifestyle. This simply means that attorneys will not be tied to the desk but will be able to practice law at anytime and anyplace they choose.
3 The goal of Irby & Heard, P.C. Ken and I realized that we were drowning in paper and it was very expensive. We concluded that we wanted to substantially limit the amount of paper in our office. Our goal is to limit the waste of paper and to increase our productivity and efficiency. We wanted to stop buying reams of paper every month, stop paying larger sums of money for postage, storage, letterhead, envelopes, file folders, etc. In 1992 we began saving to the hard drive our entire work product. In 2005 we purchased a good scanner/copier which allowed us to effectively and efficiently scan all documents coming into our office. We no longer open paper files. We no longer need to pull files from storage.
4 Why paperless? It saves money and time. We estimate that by reducing the amount of paper and printing, we save over $30,000 per year. In the old days, we spent hours looking for files. I have been practicing for almost 40 years and I have saved every file that I have ever created. Many of the files are in storage. Some of the files are in my office and some are in a separate storage facility.
5 Why paperless? As you know, many times when you look for a file, it is missing and therefore, you have to spend a lot of time looking for the file. We would shut down the office and an all-points bulletin was issued to scramble to find a file. The file was always found, but not before losing a lot of time and decreasing efficiency. Now all we do is open our computer and do a computer search for the file. All documents that we produce in-house or that we scan can be found in our computer.
6 Why paperless? You save money on paper, letterhead, envelopes, file folders, folder tabs and stickers, postage, toner, printers, copiers, storage boxes, storage cost and employee time copying and searching for documents, and more. No sticky notes, no telephone message pads, (we use instant messages and ) no rubber bands, no paper clips. Everything is saved in the computer.
7 Why paperless? All documents that we produce in-house or that we scan can be found in our computer. No more searching or losing paper documents. No more secretaries leaving their desks to pull files. No more inefficient use of time. We scan and shred almost everything. We do our best to limit using the U.S. Post Office.
8 Getting started computer and scanner Each person in our office has a computer which is linked to a file server network. Our file server has 1.5 terabytes of hard drive. Half again as much hard drive as it would take to digitize all of the documents in the Library of Congress. This is cheaper than paper and toner. After the computer, the first thing you will need to do is get good scanning equipment. There are many types of scanning equipment out there, from the small one piece of paper at a time scanner, to the desktop scanner, to the large, fast, multi-function printer/scanner. The large printer/scanners are super fast and they interface directly with your computer or network.
9 Getting started computer and scanner One word of caution when buying new equipment. Research which equipment will suit your needs. Each manufacturer is different and has different capabilities. Always get a demonstration before buying. Also, I recommend that you go to other law firms that use the same equipment and watch them use it. You will need to make sure that your current technology can support the new scanning equipment that you are buying.
10 Getting started computer and scanner The gold standard in scanning software is Adobe Acrobat Professional. There are dozens of tips and tricks that you need to learn. Most of us likely have no clue as to the capabilities of Adobe Acrobat.
11 Getting started computer and scanner For example, did you know that Acrobat has a typewriter function? All you need to do is scan a form that needs to be filled out and turn it into a PDF. Then choose the typewriter function and you will be able to type on the document even though it is not a Word or WordPerfect document. It is simply a preprinted form. No more typos, no more ribbons, no more typewriters. Adobe Acrobat has a security feature which allows you to secure a document from changes by an outside party.
12 Getting started computer and scanner Adobe Acrobat also has an OCR or optical character recognition function that reads your documents in such a way that will make it searchable. If you need training on Adobe or almost any other program, I recommend the website You can pay as little as $25 per month and have access to multiple training videos on most software.
13 Shredder We have at least five shredders in our office. We also use the services of a company that will shred documents in bulk. The truck comes to our office with the shredder and we supervise the shredding of the documents. You will find that for the most part there is no need to keep and file paper.
14 Document management software Our office uses a data management system called Worldox Before you begin using document management software you should consult with your IT professional. Worldox allows us to input into the computer and organize most formats, including PDF documents, just like you organize your paper files, except it will all be done in your computer.
15 Document management software Worldox takes control of all of your programs and as a result you can open your programs from within Worldox without having to go into each program to open your document. You search documents in Worldox the same way you search in the Internet. Worldox is a remarkable program that has changed the way we search for information and has substantially reduced the need to search for and pull files.
16 Digital files Most correspondence does not have to be hand signed. There is a lot of wasted paper and ink when printing a document, signing it, scanning it and ing. Adobe Acrobat Professional allows you to scan your signature into your system and have it inserted in a secured encrypted way into your correspondence. Make sure you deny access to your signature by anyone else in your office Our letterhead has been saved in the computer as a template so that we do not in most cases print our correspondence on actual preprinted letterhead.
18 Backup, backup, backup Make sure you have a reliable way of backing up your data. It is important that you not only backup your data, but you also have the backup tested. We backup every day and I take another backup home. If lightning or fire destroys my computer and backup hard drive, we can still retrieve our data.
19 Excerpts from Alabama Bar Association Ethics Opinion Rule 1.15, Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, sets out a lawyer s responsibilities relating to types of property of clients or third persons. Identify and Segregate File. Rule 1.15, Ala. R. Prof. C., imposes an ethical and fiduciary duty on the lawyer to properly identify a client s file as such, segregate the file from the lawyer s business and personal property, as well as from the property of other clients and third persons, safeguard and account for its contents, and promptly produce it upon request by the client. Protect Client s Interest. Rule 1.16(d), Ala. R. Prof. C., provides, in pertinent part: (d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law. Attorney s Lien. The client s possessory rights to the file are subject to an attorney s lien created by Ala. Code (1975, as amended), for unpaid fees and expenses.
20 Excerpts from Alabama Bar Association Ethics Opinion Confidentiality Rule 1.6, Ala. R. Prof. C. provides in part that a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client. The duty to maintain confidentiality includes the duty to segregate, protect and safeguard a client s file and the information it contains. The obligation to maintain a client s file contemporaneously organized and orderly filing and indexing system is inherent in the duty of confidentiality and explicit in Rule Adopt File Retention Policies The best practice is for a lawyer to adopt and follow a file retention policy that best fits the needs of the lawyer s practice and the lawyer s clients. How long must a file be retained? Generally, a lawyer should maintain a copy of the client s file for a minimum of six (6) years from termination of the representation or conclusion of the matter. Six (6) years is the absolute minimum period, but special circumstances may exist that require a longer, even indefinite, period of retention. Files relating to minors, probate matters, estate planning, tax, criminal law, business entities and transactional matters should be retained indefinitely and until their contents are substantively and practically obsolete and their retention would serve no useful purpose to the client, the lawyer, or the administration of justice.
21 What is considered part of the client s file? In general, there are two approaches to determine what constitutes the client s file. The "entire file" approach provides that the client owns and is, therefore, entitled to all of the documents within the client's file, unless the lawyer establishes that withholding items would not result in foreseeable prejudice to the client or would, as previously discussed, endanger the health, safety or welfare of the client or others The "end product" approach divides ownership of documents in the file between the client and the lawyer and permits a lawyer to retain certain documents, such as notes by the lawyer to himself made in preparation for deposition, trials, or interviews or blemished drafts of other documents, which may contain the lawyer s mental impressions, opinions, and legal theories, some of which may not be flattering or palatable to the client or the lawyer. Disciplinary Commission Ruling. The Disciplinary Commission agrees with the majority of jurisdictions that the entire file approach is the best approach.
22 What contents of a client s file may be destroyed? Documents fall into three(3) basic categories. Category 1 property is intrinsically valuable property. Its value is inherent in its nature. Examples of Category 1 include, but are not limited to: wills, powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, other executed estate planning documents, stock certificates, bonds, cash, negotiable instruments, certificates of title, abstracts of title, deeds, official corporate or other business and financial records, and settlement agreements. Copies of Category 1 documents must be retained indefinitely, unless the lawyer determines that the copy can be lawfully destroyed because it has been rendered useless and of no value by the client s possession of the original, or by the proper recording of the original, or at the specific written instruction of the client, under circumstances where destruction of the property would not otherwise be illegal or improper. Where destruction is necessary and appropriate, the lawyer should deliver the original to the client or deposit it with the court.
23 Category 2 property is valuable property. Its value is dependent upon the present circumstances or upon the reasonably foreseeable probability of a change in future circumstances. Factors that the lawyer may consider are certainty and identity of ownership, source of the property, its intended purpose, its planned or possible use, its character as an original or copy, its form and size, the practicality of preserving or storing it, and the reasonable expectations of the client or owner regarding its ultimate disposition. Examples of Category 2 property include, but are not limited to: tangible personal property, photographs, audio and video recordings, pleadings, correspondence, discovery, demonstrative aids, written statements, notes, memoranda, voluminous financial, accounting, or business records, and any other property, the premature or unauthorized destruction of which would be detrimental to the client s present or reasonably foreseeable future interests. Category 2 property may be destroyed with the actual consent of the client or upon the client s implied consent, which may be obtained by the client s failure to take possession of the property on or within 60 days of a date established by the lawyer s written file retention policy or as provided in a separate written notice, sent to the client s last known address, advising of the date of the lawyer s planned destruction or disposal of the property. Category 2 files should be retained for a reasonable period of time at the end of which reasonable attempts should be made to contact the client and deliver the documents to him. After the minimum retention period of six (6) years, those documents may be appropriately destroyed.
24 Category 3 property is property that has no value or reasonably foreseeable future value. It does not fall into either Category 1 or Category 2. Category 3 files may be destroyed after the minimum required period of time without notice to or authorization by the client. However, the best practice is for the lawyer to use the same notice procedure for Category 3 property as prescribed for Category 2 property. Before destroying or disposing of any client file. It is the lawyer s responsibility to review and screen the file to ensure that Category 1 property is not being destroyed. The lawyer must maintain an index of all destroyed files, which index must contain information sufficient to identify the client, the nature or subject matter of the representation, the date the file was opened and closed, the court case number associated with the file, a general description of the type of property destroyed, e.g., Pleadings, Correspondence, Notes, Legal Research, Videotapes, Photographs, a notation that the file was reviewed for Category 1 property, by whom, whether or not such property was contained in the file, and if so, its location or disposition, and the date and method of destruction of the file.
25 What are the ethical considerations relating to electronic files? When paper files are converted to electronic format, destruction of the paper file is not without limits or conditions. Even after Category 1 documents are scanned and converted to electronic format, the lawyer cannot destroy the paper Category 1 document. After scanning and conversion, Category 2 and 3 documents may be destroyed, but the best practice is to follow the procedure used for ordinary paper documents. Like documents that are converted, documents that are originally created and maintained electronically must be secured and reasonable measures must be in place to protect the confidentiality, security and integrity of the document. The lawyer must ensure that the process is at least as secure as that required for traditional paper files. This requires the lawyer to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to the electronic files. The lawyer should also take reasonable steps to ensure that the files are secure from outside intrusion. Such steps may include the installation of firewalls and intrusion detection software. Although not required for traditional paper files, a lawyer must back up all electronically stored files onto another computer or media that can be accessed to restore data in case the lawyer s computer crashes, the file is corrupted, or his office is damaged or destroyed.
26 Back-up via a third-party provider or internet-based server. A lawyer may also choose to store or back-up client files via a third-party provider or internet-based server, provided that the lawyer exercises reasonable care in doing so. These third-party or internet-based servers may include what is commonly referred to as cloud computing. However, there are also confidentiality issues that arise with the use of cloud computing. The Disciplinary Commission agrees and has determined that a lawyer may use cloud computing or third-party providers to store client data provided that the attorney exercises reasonable care in doing so. The duty of reasonable care requires the lawyer to become knowledgeable about how the provider will handle the storage and security of the data being stored and to reasonably ensure that the provider will abide by a confidentiality agreement in handling the data. Additionally, because technology is constantly evolving, the lawyer will have a continuing duty to stay abreast of appropriate security safeguards that should be employed by the lawyer and the third-party provider. If there is a breach of confidentiality, the focus of any inquiry will be whether the lawyer acted reasonably in selecting the method of storage and/or the third party provider. In whatever format the lawyer chooses to store client documents, the format must allow the lawyer to reproduce the documents in their original paper format. If a lawyer electronically stores a client s file and the client later requests a copy of the file, the lawyer must abide by the client s decision in whether to produce the file in its electronic format, such as on a compact disc or in its original paper format.
27 Discard of Computers. When a lawyer discards laptops, computers, or other electronic devices, he must take adequate reasonable measures to ensure that client files and/or confidential information have been erased from those items. In what format must the client s file be delivered? The best practice is to develop a procedure that integrates the various file formats into an organized, indexed and searchable, unified system, so that prompt access to and production of the complete file, regardless of its various formats, can be reasonably assured. Where a client has requested a copy of his file, the file may be produced in the format in which it is maintained by the lawyer, unless otherwise agreed upon or requested by the client. If the client requests that the electronic documents be produced in paper format, then the lawyer must accommodate the client, unless the lawyer s written file retention policy agreed to by the client provides otherwise. If the client requests the lawyer to produce the file in electronic format, but the lawyer maintains portions of the file in traditional paper format, the lawyer is not required to produce the file in electronic format, but may simply produce the file in the format in which it is maintained.
28 Can the lawyer charge the client for the cost of copying the file? A lawyer may not charge the client for the cost of providing an initial copy of the file to the client. We note that many lawyers furnish courtesy copies of documents to their clients during the representation. Lawyers may not charge the client for any costs incurred in producing and tendering the file to the client. However, the lawyer may charge reasonable copying costs if a client requests additional copies of his file. As a general rule, the client is responsible to make arrangements to pick up a copy of his file at the lawyer s place of business. The lawyer may insist on a written acknowledgement of receipt from the client as a condition of surrender of the file. In the event the client refuses to acknowledge receipt of the file, the lawyer may refuse to tender the file. If the client requests that the file be produced to his authorized agent, then the lawyer should insist on written authorization to do so and should expressly warn the client that production of the file to a third party may defeat confidentiality and attorney-client privilege. If the client requests that the file be produced by mail, common carrier, or at a location other than the lawyer s office, the client is responsible for the costs associated with such production and the lawyer may withhold production until the client pre-pays the estimated costs or makes arrangements agreeable to the lawyer.
30 Excerpt from Alabama Bar Association Form [Law Firm Name] File Retention Schedule [Comment: The retention periods below are suggested minimums based on review of information contained in Records Management in the Legal Environment by Jean Barr, CRM; Beth Chiaiese, CRM; and Lee R. Nemchek, CRM 2003 ARMA International. You should determine your own retention schedule based on the particular nature of your practice, keeping in mind that the minimum file retention period in Alabama is at least six years, that files in matters relating to minors should be retained for a minimum of six years after the minor reaches majority, and that in some instances files or client property contained therein should be maintained indefinitely. Remove this comment and information for areas of the law your firm does not handle before giving this schedule to clients.]
31 Area of Law Antitrust Litigation Counseling Banking Commercial Finance Bankruptcy Collections Commercial Commodities Retention Period Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 7 years Close of matter plus 6 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years
32 Area of Law Retention Period Communications Contract Actions Corporate Criminal Employee Benefits Close of matter plus 6 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Review Annually and destroy 10 years after release from incarceration Close of matter plus 10 years Estate Planning and Close of matter plus 100 Administration years plus 100 years
33 Area of Law Retention Period Family Law Adoption Dissolution Pre-nuptial Close of matter plus 75 years Later of close of matter plus 25 years or 6 years after youngest child reaches majority Close of matter plus 75 years Food and Drug Close of matter plus 25 years
34 Area of Law Retention Period Government Regulations Close of matter plus 10 years and Legislation Health Care Intellectual Property Patents Trademarks Copyright Joint Ventures Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Review yearly retain indefinitely Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years
35 Area of Law Retention Period Juvenile Labor Litigation General Environmental Appellate Merger and Acquisition Municipal Minor reaches majority plus 15 years Close of matter plus 20 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years
36 Area of Law Retention Period Personal Injury Adults Minors Products Liability Real Estate Regulatory Securities Close of matter plus 15 years Minor reaches majority plus 15 years Close of matter plus 25 years Close of matter plus 50 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years
37 Area of Law Retention Period Tax Transportation Utilities Close of matter plus 10 years Retain estate tax returns 75 years Close of matter plus 10 years Close of matter plus 10 years
38 Mixie VOIP Telephone System Zultys manufactures and sells a voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) phone system which operates through the Internet. This is not your parent s telephone system. I have a home office that is linked to the office telephone. When the phone rings in the office it also rings at my home office. My home office VOIP Mixie telephone is an extension phone and can be used the same way as any other phone in my office. The person on the other end of the call has no idea that you are not in the office. Also, when the phone rings in my office and my home office it also rings on my iphone.
39 Mixie VOIP Telephone System Faxing is almost a thing of the past. Each person in our office has his own private fax line. The faxes are received directly into the computer through the Mixie phone system. No paper. We save the fax using Worldox. Our Mixie VOIP telephone, and Internet are connected through a T-1 line. The cost of a T-1 line is very competitive. Each person in our office has a private line and a private fax line. We encourage our clients to call our private line and not call our secretary or receptionist.
40 Mixie VOIP Telephone System This greatly reduces the manpower needed to answer the telephone. If a party is not available the Mixie voic system allows us to leave the appropriate message. Mixie can also record any telephone conversation. Your voice messages and recorded messages can be easily saved to your hard drive or s. Conferencing with Mixie is simple and clearer. Our system allows us to conference up to four participants.
41 Mixie VOIP Telephone System Mixie allows us to use a soft phone in my laptop. Mixie has a call detail reporting feature which keeps up with all calls and can be exported into a time billing system. I do not dial telephone numbers anymore. Mixie links to my Outlook Express contacts list. I retrieve the contact in Outlook and punch the icon with my mouse pointer.
42 Home Office We use remote desktop connection to connect our office with my home office. While in the home office I login through the Internet into our office network. When logged in I am viewing the same page that I would view if I were in the office. Using my home office computer is just like using my computer and telephone in the office. I can work anywhere in the world.
43 Smart Phone and ipad As you are aware there are many brands of smart phones available. My law partner and I use an iphone and ipad. Although an iphone and ipad are fairly expensive, they have greatly increased our efficiency. We are now linked to our office, s, calendar, and contacts list. My iphone is linked to my Mixie VOIP phone and rings when my office phone rings.
44 Attachments to s are generally sent in Adobe Acrobat and are secured. Make sure the recipient has an appropriate Adobe reader version. We put the following statement on the cover of our s. Opening Adobe Attachments Most attachments are sent as Adobe Acrobat files. If your program does not automatically open attachments, you may have to open Adobe Acrobat before attempting to open the documents. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader you can download the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which allows you to open and print Adobe files. There is no charge for Adobe Acrobat Reader and you can download it by doubleclicking the following link to the Adobe website:
45 If you encounter any problems with the transmission of these documents, please do not hesitate to contact us. CIRCULAR NOTICE 230 TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH REQUIREMENTS IMPOSED BY THE IRS, WE INFORM YOU THAT ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT (INCLUDING ANY ATTACHMENTS) ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN TO BE USED, AND CANNOT BE USED, BY YOU, OR ANY OTHER TAXPAYER, FOR THE PURPOSE OF AVOIDING PENALTIES UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW.
46 CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE THIS , AND ANY DOCUMENTS, FILES OR PREVIOUS MESSAGES ATTACHED TO IT, IS INTENDED FOR THE PERSON OR ENTITY TO WHICH IT IS ADDRESSED AND MAY CONTAIN INFORMATION THAT IS PRIVILEGED, CONFIDENTIAL OR OTHERWISE PROTECTED FROM DISCLOSURE. DISSEMINATION, DISTRIBUTION OR COPYING OF THIS OR THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BY ANYONE OTHER THAN THE INTENDED RECIPIENT, OR AN EMPLOYEE OR AGENT RESPONSIBLE FOR DELIVERING THE MESSAGE TO THE INTENDED RECIPIENT, IS PROHIBITED. IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS IN ERROR, PLEASE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY IRBY & HEARD, P.C., BY CALLING THE RECEPTIONIST AT IRBY & HEARD, P.C., AT (251) , AND DESTROY THE ORIGINAL TRANSMISSION AND ALL COPIES AND ATTACHMENTS WITHOUT READING, COPYING, OR SAVING IN ANY MANNER. THANK YOU.
47 Microsoft outlook We have found that the most inexpensive program to use for our calendar and contacts is Microsoft Outlook. We have more than 5000 contacts in Microsoft Outlook which is linked to our Mixie VOIP telephone system.
48 Voice recognition software Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a voice recognition software that allows you to speak into a microphone and the words are typed in the software document I am using at the time. The program has greatly increased my productivity. This outline was dictated by me using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. A secretary did not type this outline.
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