This post continues my discussion on how attorneys and law firms can use Evernote. Yesterday I gave tips on how lawyers can organize their Evernote files more efficiently. In this article I’m going to go over something you can do with ease – create a paperless law office with Evernote. We’re going to look at four things. First, let’s talk about how you can keep all your notes organized in a paperless fashion. Second, we’ll look at how to deal with correspondence. Third, we’ll tackle the issue of pleadings and discovery. Finally, we’ll wrap up by looking at why Evernote is the best choice for a paperless solution. If you don’t like clutter then read on. If you’re a fan of not being able to find things and having extra stress then 1) this article is not for you and 2) you probably look like this ol’ boy:
If you don’t want to share in this pictured gentleman’s unfortunate fate, then read on.
Lawyers can create a paperless note system in Evernote
It’s time to ask yourself a few questions. First, how many legal pads do you have scattered around your office with various notes taken on them? How many sticky notes are all over the place with reminders or notes on them? How many sticky notes are attached to the computer monitor on which you’re reading this article? Don’t lie, I know you’re looking at the notes on your monitor right now. How many notes do you have, regarding cases, vendors, etc., in paper files? Now ask yourself the big one – how much time do you spend looking for things in your office? Creating a paperless note system in Evernote will 1) keep all your data in one easily searchable place, so you can quickly find it and 2) save you quite a bit of time and money.
Evernote allows you to note only save notes that you type directly in the software, it also allows you to attach handwritten notes or other items. When typing your notes on something is more practical than writing them down then simply type them directly into Evernote. There are, however, plenty of times where a legal pad is preferable for taking notes down. When you’re performing a consultation then it’s easier to give the client your attention if you’re writing something down as opposed to typing. Such allows you to make more eye contact, etc. Also, most attorneys prefer the ol’ pen and paper when they’re in Court. Finally, there are times in which something quickly gets jotted down on paper. The solution to these situations is simple, when you’re done with the consult, court appearance, or other task, simply scan the paper and attach it to a note in the software. Once you’ve scanned and uploaded the note, then the piece of paper can be stashed in the following filing cabinet:
When you need to retrieve your scanned notes from Evernote then you can do so, in all of two seconds, through the Evernote search functions. Lawyers and law firms will greatly simplify their lives just by implementing these steps.
Attorneys can easily set up paperless correspondence files with Evernote
There are two forms of documents which should be in a paper correspondence file. Letters/faxes as well as printed emails. Having all the correspondence on a case in one central location is important for obvious reasons. There aren’t many good solutions for this, however, because of the email issue; if I send you an email and you respond then the rest of your firm doesn’t have access to that email unless you print it. Attorneys can quickly and easily get around this dilema by creating a paperless correspondence file, that the entire office can view, with Evernote.
Getting paper correspondence into Evernote is the easy part. Just scan it and attach it to a note the way we discussed above. Email is easily dealt with as well. Sign up for an app called Powerbot. When you read and send emails then this app allows you to easily, and pretty seamlessly, send the emails straight into Evernote with an appropriate folder designation and tag. Voila, all of your law firm’s written correspondence and emails are now saved into an easily searchable Evernote correspondence file. Here’s a great video from Steve Dotto (who gives great tech tips) demonstrating how easily you can manage emails with Powerbot:
As of this writing, Powerbot works with Gmail, Outlook, Outlook.com, and Yahoo mail. If you’re still using Outlook then 1) I’m sorry and 2) you may want to read why Gmail is better than Outlook. Powerbot can be set up and implemented, literally, in seconds.
Law firms can set up paperless pleadings and correspondence files with Evernote
It’s easy to set up paperless pleadings and discovery files in Evernote. Just follow the same process as the one above for written notes. There’s a big benefit, however, of using Evernote for these items. You will now have a bad ass brief bank! Think of how often lawyers and law firms want to assign a task to someone such as a law clerk or a paralegal. The person receiving an assignment will often need an example of previous work product. Finding a good example often means sifting through files in various client folders until you can find a good one. Having your pleadings in Evernote cures this. Say you assign your law clerk a Motion to Dismiss. All the clerk has to do is search Evernote for that type of pleading and they’ll suddenly have every one your firm has ever done right there in a row and they can easily skim the examples. This will make everyone’s life easier.
Evernote is the best solution for attorneys and law firms that want to go paperless
Why is this solution so great for law firm’s wanting to go paperless? Simple, it allows you to be device and platform neutral. By this I mean that Evernote has great desktop applications for both Windows and Mac. It also has great mobile applications for Android and iOS devices. It works great in the browser so you can work from any computer or a Chromebook (which I use as my laptop). This is an independent product that doesn’t try to marry itself to any one platform. As a result, it works well on all platforms. If you use Windows in the office, your managing partner carries an iPhone, and an associate uses an Android device, then everyone can still access everything with ease.
Going paperless this way is 1) easy and 2) something that will save you time and increase efficiency which, in turn, increases profits. One final benefit of Evernote is the advantage it will give you in Court. All of your notes, pleadings, correspondence, etc. will be accessible on your mobile device and easily searchable. When’s the last time you could bring that level of documentation into Court with the ability to find what you’re looking for in a matter of seconds? Not recently I’m willing to bet.
Have you considered going paperless with your law office? Is Evernote your solution of choice? Feel free to chime in on the comment form below.