filing basket full of paperYou’re almost to the finish line. We’ve spent the last few days talking about when is the right time for attorneys to hire employees as well as how to make sure the people hired by a law firm are productive. Today we’re going to make your office more efficient, which in turn makes you more money, by going paperless with your correspondence. You’re going to be quite shocked at how easy this is.

Let’s take a fast look at the benefit of paperless correspondence files. First, you’re not stuck with a paper file that can only be in one room at a time; your correspondence can be accessed from anywhere at any time. Second, it will reduce the staff time required to file correspondence away. Third, it reduces paper clutter around your office which, in turn, reduces the amount of time spent trying to find something. Finally, it greatly reduces on expenses such as paper. Rather than printing emails for the file we’ll discuss in a minute how to make the easily accessible in your new electronic system.

Lawyers can easily create a paperless correspondence file with Evernote

Evernote is the ultimate electronic note taking application. We spent day 15 discussing why lawyers should use Evernote to take note and to store any hand-written notes. Using Evernote as a paperless correspondence file is incredibly easy and will save you both time and money.

Paper documents can be easily scanned and attached to a “note” in the Evernote program. This note is then instantly accessible from all of your devices. One of the great beauties of this is that the programs notes are searchable; rather than flipping through a paper file for a piece of correspondence you can simply use the search box. A quick suggestion though – you need to set this up in a way that stays simple and streamlined. Have you ever looked at someone’s electronic files on their computer only to find that there are so many files and folders, and different places, that it becomes incredibly confusing? This can happen sometimes with those who don’t use Evernote efficiently. Let’s make sure you don’t do this.

To place a piece of written correspondence in Evernote simply scan the document and attach it to one of the application’s notes. In my office we titled each note with the date of the correspondence to keep things simple. Evernote allows you to “sort” your notes by the date of note-creation so seeing your file in chronological order is incredibly easy.

A big mistake attorneys make with Evernote is to set up notebooks for every client. This makes them miss out on the application’s powerful way of streamlining information. Simply create a “correspondence” notebook to use for all cases instead of having a correspondence notebook for every client. Given that Evernote allows you to “tag” your notes, simply tag a piece of correspondence with that client’s name (or whatever designation you use). Then when you want to view all the correspondence for that client simply click on the correspondence notebook and the tag for that client and it will all be lined up in Evernote’s easy to use viewing window (which looks a lot like Outlook or any other desktop mail application for those unfamiliar with Evernote).

Voila! Your paper correspondence is now in a digital folder that is much easier to manage than a paper one.

Attorneys can easily set up a paperless email file by integrating Evernote with Powerbot

Attorneys often want to go paperless with correspondence and email is the big pain. An application called “Powerbot” makes it easy to integrate Evernote with web email applications such as Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo mail. If you’re still rockin’ Microsoft Outlook as a desktop email application then don’t sweat it as Powerbot works with Outlook as well. On a separate note, if you’re using Outlook then you probably still have a quill pen, a home land line hooked to a phone through a cord, and a VHS player hooked up to your black and white TV with no remote control. Powerbot can’t help you with those problems.

Using Powerbot to save your emails into your new Evernote correspondence file is incredibly easy and you don’t have to leave your email to do it. Here’s a video showing how wonderfully this app integrates your email and Evernote.

In other words, you’re filing the emails into a shared “correspondence” folder that everyone can access instantly at the time you send it. No more need to waste paper printing emails just so you can waste money by having your file clerk put them in a paper folder.

The efficiency gains from going paperless with your correspondence is something you’ll be amazed at and many attorneys don’t appreciate how great these gains are until they actually experience them. Obviously you have a lot of old correspondence in your office. The length of time you’ve had your practice should determine whether you want to go back and put your old correspondence into Evernote or if you simply want to start fresh in Evernote from today forward (which is what we did in my firm).

Today’s action item is simple. Get an Evernote correspondence file set up as described above and use tags to keep the file organized. Install Powerbot and begin saving all future correspondence into Evernote rather than a paper file.