As the Firm grew, so did its volume of paper records. In one location alone, the Firm had the equivalent of 14 miles of boxes containing paper case records in off-site storage. While 95% of client documents were received in electronic form, 40% of the Firm's legal teams still relied on hard copy files. This led to excessive paper waste, extra labor and expense to create a file, filing backlogs, delays in locating files, inconsistent naming conventions and varying methods of saving and storing files.
The Firm also had two separate departments handling the intake of client documents and processing for case review. The Firm's office services team engaged with clients and input documents while the records management team stamped and aligned documents for initial review. This created misaligned processes that needed to be remedied for efficiency and success.
In addition, some courts were requiring case documents to be filed digitally. To accommodate this requirement, the Firm had tried to migrate its information from paper to electronic form, but had limited success due to using contract personnel and others inexperienced in digital transformation. Adding to the pressure to go digital, the growing ranks of attorneys wanted case information available anytime, anywhere and the Firm didn't have the technology infrastructure to accommodate mobile access to records.
The Firm now has established paper light processes and protocols to begin their digital transformation. When the initiative is rolled out firm-wide to nearly two dozen offices around the U.S., there will be a digital record of all client matters from intake to closed case. From an information governance standpoint, the Firm now has repeatable and defensible policies and procedures that will be implemented throughout the enterprise.
Also, the Firm's office services and records departments have been re-aligned to support the digital initiative for intaking client information and preparing the files for review. In addition, having a smooth digital records process will eliminate filing backlogs, speed up file location and bring consistency to naming conventions as well as saving and storing files.
Now that Ricoh has demonstrated our consultative, collaborative approach — listening, understanding and working with the Firm in a way that works best for them — we are poised to take on future initiatives. Discussions are underway to replicate our analysis and pilot program success in the Firm's information governance, IT and litigation support areas.
Ricoh had been the Firm's print technology partner for more than a decade, working with the Firm to solve problems and overcome business challenges around printing. As the Firm continued to grow, its leaders increasingly recognized their paper-heavy workflow and practices wouldn't support future growth, digital transformation and remote information access. Based on our years of partnership with the Firm, Ricoh Consulting Services was introduced to their head of information governance to discuss their goals. We first recommended conducting a highly collaborative white board session at one of the Firm's locations to gain a deep understanding of their objectives.
Following the session, our consultants and the Firm jointly agreed to conduct a current-state analysis with a practice group at one of the Firm's offices and talk to records and office services personnel across five locations. We interviewed more than 30 key employees to map and understand existing systems, tasks and challenges with file workflow.
Based on the analysis, Ricoh and the Firm agreed the best course of action would be a 24-month "Paper Light" pilot program to begin process automation and digital transformation at one location. Since some attorneys were averse to digital processes, a lighter, phased approach was identified as the best way forward to meet the Firm's needs. Once the pilot is complete, the Paper Light program will be rolled out to more locations and the Firm will be well on its way to working smarter in the digital future.