Legal Technology Collaboration: Six Steps to Implementing a Digital Mailroom
According to Gartner, 50 percent of legal work will be automated by 2024. Cloud, automation and other digitization tools give law firms the speed and flexibility to implement solutions quicker and with little to no IT development support. However, it does take a certain amount of collaboration to launch any new legal technology initiative. And, implementing a digital mailroom is no different.
With a digital mailroom, law firms can capture mail and inbound documents from multiple channels—including physical mail streams from the U.S. Postal Service, emails, faxes, and web forms. The most sophisticated digital mailroom solutions offer a SaaS platform that can then intelligently and automatically processes items to ensure regulatory compliance and centralizes the information securely in the cloud to provide instant accessibility for authorized users.
Follow These Steps for Digital Mail Success
Legal tech solutions, when implemented properly, can help law firms complete manual, administrative tasks more efficiently so lawyers can spend more time practicing law and support staff can focus on more strategic activities that help grow the practice. Law firms should be thoughtful and deliberate in their decision making in order to implement a new digital mail solution that truly provides value and contributes to tangible business outcomes.
1. Get Executive Sponsorship
Securing executive sponsorship is the first step law firms should take. You need to ensure that everyone at the executive level collaborates on defining the goals and objectives for the organization in terms of a digital mailroom. Once established, those goals and objectives should be clearly disseminated throughout the firm to encourage other staff buy-in.
2. Appoint an Internal Project Manager
In order to facilitate a seamless implementation, the law firm should have somebody internally run lead on and oversee the project—serving as liaison between the technology vendor and the practice. Many experienced, SaaS-based vendors should be in a position to drive the project themselves—without a lot of IT or other staff involvement—relying on the internal project manager more so as a day-to-day contact to answer questions, facilitate information gathering, and/or unblocking any process bottlenecks.
3. Make Security a Top Priority
There’s is a lot of sensitive information coming into a law firm’s physical mailroom, such as personally identifiable information (PII), financials, and healthcare records governed by HIPPA. Your law firm wants to make sure that whatever technology vendor it chooses has the necessary certifications in place to protect that information. For example, you want to look for SOC2 certifications to ensure PII is protected. If your firm deals with credit card and check information, a vendor that holds a PCI certification is necessary. When it comes to HIPAA, look for a vendor that can demonstrate that there are controls in place to maintain the confidentiality, privacy, integrity and availability of personal health information (PHI).
4. Select a Total Solution
Don’t get caught up with vendors that “specialize” in either inbound mail or outbound mail solutions. Look for a technology partner that can offer a total solution—one that combines document capture and management with automated workflow technology to digitize the secure inbound and outbound delivery of mail. Additionally, evaluate whether or not the solution has the capability to integrate with existing case-management systems, so when a particular case is searched, all documents and correspondence with that case appear in one view—accessible by others across the firm.
5. Build in an Accountability Component
Law firms not only need a solution that scans and sends mail to an application, but also one that creates a detailed audit trail in order to know where every piece of mail is going, what happens to it, and who touches it along the way. This type of visibility allows firms to easily create accountability whereby mail now rollsinto a workflow task, giving firm administrators reporting on the back end that shows who’s processing their mail in a timely fashion—and who’s not.
6. Seek Out a Provider That Guarantees Outcomes
One very important aspect during the vendor selection process is to seek out providers that will work with your law firm as a consultant while guaranteeing results and business outcomes—versus just selling yousoftware. The ability to measure metrics and have a service-level agreement is extremely important in today’s business environment. A technology partner that can explain what a digital mail concept is going to mean to a firm and its lawyers is key. In the legal space, there tends to be some older, legacy attorneys who still like using physical paper—so it’s imperative that everyone understands the benefits across the practice.
Digital Mail Is Part of a Pathway to Paperless
A digital mailroom helps stop paper at its source by digitizing the mail as it’s coming into a law firm. But there is still an exorbitant number of paper documents sitting in file cabinets and boxes in storage. A technology vendor experienced in information management can help your law firm create a strategic pathway to paperless and assist in digitizing all those documents and uploading them into your case-management system.
Creating a successful pathway to paperless strategy involves a three-step process:
Step 1: Get rid of your firm’s boxes
Step 2: Eliminate the file cabinets
Step 3: Stop paper at the source
As law firms continue to evolve, this type of technology becomes more necessary as the legal industry as whole continues to adapt to a more remote business landscape. The ability to deliver mail to the right person, in the right format, at the right time while providing anytime, anywhere secure access will be key.
Implemented correctly, digital mailroom technology can remove existing barriers and have a positive impact not only on law firms, but also on the entire legal industry.