3 Trends in Law Firm Information Management

Topics: Law Firm Information Governance

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Law firms fared better in 2010 than in the prior two recessionary years. Revenue was up a modest 1.3%, while profits per equity partner rose 7.4%. Though the legal industry seems to be on the road to recovery, most firms remain committed to improving their bottom line and increasing operational efficiency. This is especially true in the new environment where “efficiency and cost effectiveness have become the driving factors of law firm competition.” If your firm wants to drive efficiencies, lower costs and gain a competitive advantage, then you’ll want to learn about three ways to do just that.

1. Shrink Your File Room to Generate Revenue

Office moves, downsizing and directives to drive additional cost savings have pressed many firms to rethink the amount of space dedicated to records storage. In response, some have shrunk or eliminated their file room footprint to create more space for revenue-generating attorney offices. The files are shifted to offsite storage with much lower real estate costs. If the additional space isn’t needed for offices, firms can look to reduce their lease space to lower costs.

Choosing to shrink onsite records space by moving files offsite is a great opportunity to put your destruction policies into practice. The more you purge before sending files off for storage, the lower your storage costs will be. Have a “clean sweep” party where your attorneys and staff clean out files. Just make sure everyone applies the policies correctly to firm and client files, and that the information marked for destruction is securely disposed of.

Practical Tip:

When shrinking onsite storage areas, consider setting a limit for any remaining file space, such as ten file drawers per attorney. This will force decisions on what is needed close at hand and what can be moved offsite or destroyed.

2. Make it Simple with Consolidation

Information management professionals at law firms are asked to file, store, image, retrieve and manage firm and client information at lightning speed. They must juggle multiple vendors in multiple cities for multiple clients. They’re asked to be more efficient with fewer resources, reduce costs and get more creative. Given this “new normal,” some firms are moving away from a decentralized approach where branch offices hire their own information management vendors. Instead, they are consolidating their services with a single vendor.

You can take advantage of the cost efficiencies and consistent program management that result from consolidation. You’ll no longer have to manage multiple contracts, invoices, pricing rates and records practices. And, executives can monitor costs and activities on a global, regional or local level with regular, consistent reporting. Suddenly, overall administration of a complex information management program becomes simpler.

Practical Tip:

Consolidate information management services for multiple offices with one vendor to gain cost efficiencies and greater program consistency.

3. Outsource to focus on Your Core Business

After all the downsizing and directives to do more with less, firms still have ever-growing volumes of information to manage. Urgent requests for files haven’t stopped. And, trying to stay on top of what to keep and what to get rid of remains an ongoing chore. With limited internal resources, many firms are outsourcing some or all of their information management functions.

The most common outsourcing approach you can consider is to push all or most of your onsite file storage to an outside vendor, if you haven’t already. If you’ve invested in an offsite storage center, you may find that it makes sense to outsource the operation of the facility to a trusted provider. Your records will be managed by trained professionals, you’ll have access to law firm information management expertise and you’ll be able to quickly find the documents you need with proven, efficient processes. If you are short staffed or want your employees to transition to electronic records management, you could outsource your file room operations. All of these outsourcing approaches free up firm resources and budgets, so you can focus on your core legal services business.

Practical Tip:

Outsource some or all of your records management to free up resources to focus on your core business.

Manage What Matters

Law firms tell us they are challenged by the ever-growing volume and complexity of their information. With Iron Mountain’s integrated information management services, you can keep it simple and gain cost efficiencies. You can also take control, by managing the volume of your paper and electronic information with our proven best practices for law firms. At the end of the day, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your client and firm information is safe, and that you can access it quickly. And when you’re confident about your information, you can focus on what matters most to your clients.