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7 Tips for Scanning in the Legal World

Law firms and legal departments know the massive amounts of work it takes to digitize and organize mountains of data for eDiscovery and internal archiving. With eDiscovery and PACER eFiling requirements, you’ve hopefully seen the value of electronically-stored information.

Besides the obvious pros of freeing up room in the office and eliminating clutter, digitizing paper records also increases information security while providing easier access for authorized personnel. With the ABA Techshow tomorrow, it’s an appropriate time to list a few tips for scanning in the legal world.

So, what’s the next step in scanning your paper records? Or how can you make your digitization for cases easier?

  1. Choose a suitable scanner for your needs. How much paper would you estimate you have? Would you classify it as “epic” or “mind-numbing”? Then it’s probably a job for an ADF scanner. Single practitioners who have stayed organized over the years may only need a sheetfed model to scan their most important documents.
  2. Decide what you want to scan. Are you planning on going completely paperless, moving every scrap of information you have to the cloud? Or do you plan on digitizing only specific batches of information? (Besides what’s required to be digitized for eDiscovery and PACER, of course.)
  3. Set very clear standards with your digitization crew, which may in fact be your litigation support. They should definitely be people you trust. Ask yourself this: Would you be comfortable shredding each piece of paper directly after it’s been scanned? They’ll also need to remove staples, keep things in the proper order and be ready to scan A LOT of paper. This isn’t something you finish before lunch. A “master plan” should be drawn up in advance, complete with proper classifications and indices for file types. And if your firm or department is planning on implementing a full ECM system, be sure the staff is well-versed and familiar with it.
  4. Decide how to get the information where it needs to go. Will you be manually transferring the data into folders, or is optical character or barcode recognition (OCR or BCR) technology required? If so, you’ll need to settle on a capable batch scanning software suite. Ambir offers a bulk scanning, forms management and data extraction software package called EzeScan.
  5. If you’re working in a Remote Desktop Services or Citrix® environment, scanning to a server can be tricky business. You’ll need to create a virtual “scanning network” in order to get the files where you want them. ScanLink® Pro is a simple way to connect any office in a remote scanning network, allowing you to scan from anywhere.
  6. Stick to your guns. Once you’ve begun the process, keep up what’s working. Don’t get sloppy or cut corners. When it’s time to retrieve the information later, it’s crucial that you index it properly now. This includes keeping up a detailed file naming system and keeping pages in the correct order, literally. If you’re creating massive, multi-page PDF documents, the story can’t read out of order.
  7. But don’t ignore chances for improvement. If something in your original plan can be improved – maybe a particular type of form is suited for OCR to create text-editable files – then adjust the plan. It’ll improve the results and leave you with a more efficient document workflow.