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Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009
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Law Practice Management Tip of the Week

Portable Scanners a Movable Feast for Office Efficiency

Attorneys who make the move to a paperless office find that they are generally more efficient, are surrounded by less clutter and can more easily locate documents when those documents are needed. There are many more benefits to going paperless, which are beyond the scope of this current posting. Suffice it to say, though, that, if you have not thought about going paperless yet, you will have to consider it at some point, likely in the near future. It will not, in the future, be a question of whether you will go paperless; but, it will be a question of how you will go paperless.

So, it becomes a matter of selecting the right tools. Some of the basic thinking here is obvious. You need a computer and a scanner, at the very least. You’ll also want to use some sort of PDF conversion software, like that offered by Adobe or Nuance. Your specific choices will revolve around your particular needs and your personal preferences. But, when you are selecting options for going paperless, don’t tie your thinking to your desk.

It’s very easy to think of your paperless processing operation as desktop computer and large-size scanning machine as outrigger for your desk; but, the issue with that simple setup is a lack of mobility.  These days, everyone has smartphones and laptops. Portability is the watchword. If you have a real estate practice, How can you be expected to scan documents at a closing if your paperless office tools are bound to your desk? Ditto for a criminal practitioner who must spend large parts of days in court. The solution is in making your scanning operation movable. The portability of your scanning operation will increase your efficiency.

To release your scanning process upon the wider world, you’ll need a laptop computer (the smaller the better, for easy transport). And, you’ll need a portable scanner. The LPM Section Council has long been singing the praises of the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300, which, along with your laptop, can fit into your briefcase, such that you can move your scanning operation to wherever you happen to be.

But, the Fujitsu ScanSnap 300 is so 2008, because Fujitsu has released an updated version of its ScanSnap product, the S1500. (That should be about 5 times better than the old version, right?)  Upgrading to or purchasing the ScanSnap S1500 provides several advantages over the older product version: it holds 50 sheets in its document feeder; it scans (both sides of a pages) at 20 pages per minute; it automatically rotates, straightens and crops; it includes the ScanSnap Organizer 4.0 software, for (with apologies to Ron Popeil) “set-it-and-forget-it” scan to e-mail, PDF files (with auto-naming) and printers. Perhaps the best feature of the ScanSnap S1500 is that it comes with Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard, a $299 value. A discount price for the new ScanSnap is generally available at the front page of the Computech International Web store ( ).

Consumer rights lawyer Sam Glover, an editor of the Lawyerist blog, has written an independent review of the new ScanSnap. He writes, in part, that:

“The S1500 is significantly faster than my old ScanSnap . . . All it takes to scan a stack of paper is a press of the big, blue button.  This is especially useful for big stacks of discovery production . . . For scanning a stack of photos I had lying around, I just set [it] to automatically name and save each photo to my pictures directory. I plowed through a few shoeboxes in about a half hour . . . The S1500 is a great upgrade."

If you’re strapped for cash, the ScanSnap S300 is a still a great portable scanner option; but, if you can afford to increase your efficiency, in making your first portable scanner purchase, or by upgrading from the S300, the added price will be paid over time, in the time you save.

For more helpful tips, join the MBA's Law Practice Management Section. Call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530 to join.

To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, contact co-chairs Alan J. Klevan or Rodney Dowell.
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