Person looking through paper filesThis is the next post in my discussion on the use of OneNote in law firms. My last article looked at how attorneys can go paperless with OneNote. I discussed how the software is a great tool for lawyers who want to stop using paper notes and who also wish to create paperless pleading files. I also went over some limitations the software will have for those who want to have a completely paper free office. That being said, I think most attorneys would agree that digitizing your notes and pleadings will greatly increase efficiency. In this article I’m going to discuss what should be an important decision for those in the legal profession – whether to use OneNote or Evernote. In my humble opinion this is a no-brainer. Evernote should be the go-to choice for law firms.

I’m suggesting that you use Evernote over OneNote for two reasons. First, Evernote is a “total solution” which will allow your firm to go paperless in terms of its correspondence in addition to notes, memos, and pleadings. As I mentioned in my last post, there’s just no good option for seamlessly integrating a paperless OneNote correspondence file into your workflow. The second reason I’m recommending Evernote is that its structure allows your office to achieve greater efficiency than does OneNote. Is OneNote a better option than paper files and notes? Yep. Do I think it’s the best option for going digital? Nope. Let’s look at why Evernote is better for your firm.

The first of my two reasons for using Evernote in your firm is simple. It allows you to go paperless in your correspondence as well as in regards to the other files you keep. By this I mean that you can have a correspondence file which contains written letters, faxes, emails (both sent and received), and any other necessary documents. The use of an application called “Powerbot” allows you to save emails into the software as you read them or send them. While Powerbot allows for incoming emails to be easily saved to OneNote, there is not a simple way for quickly saving outgoing correspondence. This creates extra steps for placing your email in a paperless correspondence folder and it’s a big reason why I find Evernote to be a better choice for law offices. The following article discusses how to set up your paperless law office in Evernote:

The second reason for choosing Evernote over OneNote is that the former allows for greater efficiency. The reason for this has to do with the way the two pieces of software were designed. OneNote takes the idea of a traditional tabbed notebook and puts it into digital form. By modeling digital software after an analog concept Microsoft has managed to give OneNote one of the key limitations which applies to paper notebooks. That limitation being clutter. The more cluttered digital file structure, which you will wind up with in OneNote, leads to a much slower workflow. Let me explain what I mean by this.

OneNote, again, is patterned after a tabbed notebook or file folder. This means you would create a digital notebook for each client and, within each notebook, you would create separate “tabs” for categories such as notes, correspondence, etc. This means that if you have five clients then you would have five notebooks (one for each client) and five separate tabs for notes (one within each client’s respective digital notebook). Evernote, by contrast, didn’t take its model from the analog world and built an approach from the ground up. If you organize your files and tags correctly then you would only have one “notes” notebook and you would have tags for each client. Sticking with the idea of five clients, I find the idea of managing one notebook and five tags (which would be the case in Evernote) much less cumbersome than managing five notebooks and five tabs (which would be the case in OneNote). For a better understanding of Evernote’s file structure read the following article:

I’m a big believer that “digital clutter” can be as harmful to a law firm’s efficiency as pieces of paper thrown all over the place. Ever been to a law office where their computer network’s file system has a million, zillion, trillion folders for each client and they spend forever hunting through each folder to find anything? The more organized your digital structure is then the more efficient your office will run. While OneNote is a huge improvement over using paper, it’s not going to give your firm the same efficiency boost you would get from Evernote.

Have you tried using Evernote or OneNote in your office? Which do you prefer? Please chime in through the comment form below.