The paper trail is diminishing at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP. The replacement: e-mail, thanks to improvements after the Cleveland-based law firm's Columbus office was chosen nearly two years ago to pioneer new hardware and software systems now used in all of the firm's eight domestic and 10 international offices.
"I have found it, personally, to be a much quicker and more effective way of communicating with clients," says Craig Woods, a partner in the firm's litigation department. "To some extent, it helps me end the endless phone tag we have from time to time."
Rather than mailing a paper document to a client or opposing counsel who makes revisions and returns it, he can now send and receive it via e-mail. That's important since attorneys spend so much time-Woods has heard estimates as high as 25 percent-simply handling documents.
The firm uses a PC-based system with Windows NT and Microsoft Outlook-based e-mail. PC Docs is the firm's document manager, and a variety of software packages are used in specific practice areas. Laptops and servers let members be fully mobile, and imaging allows for electronic storage and access to documents.
Even the most senior attorneys have adapted to the new technology, he says.
"Management forced everybody to get computer literate, effectively, because now most of the important information we receive about the firm comes to us electronically."