AccuRoute Transforms Shulman Roger’s Trusts and Estates Department from Cold Case to Instant Trust
It may be hard to believe that a records scanning initiative can dramatically improve the efficiency of a law practice, but at Shulman Rogers, it actually happened. One of the many impacts of the firm’s scanning initiative was felt within the firm’s Trust and Estates department, where the client experience was quickly elevated in a surprisingly positive manner.
The nature of any trusts and estates practice is that a legal team works diligently to prepare wills and other estate planning documents on behalf of a client. Once executed, those documents may sit undisturbed for years — or even decades. Years may pass before another life event causes the client or surviving member of the client’s family to contact the firm, and they are fully expecting to speak with a lawyer intimately familiar with their matter. Of course, the documents related to the matter have likely long since been sent to a secure storage facility and are not immediately accessible to the attorneys.
To properly serve our clients, we needed the trusts and estates files to be instantly accessible, not gathering dust in a cold archive. This was our challenge, and records scanning was our solution.
The firm purchased AccuRoute, a document capture software solution, back in 2008. AccuRoute enabled us to scan documents directly from our copiers and electronically route them to specific Windows folders or email inboxes. AccuRoute itself worked well, but our destinations for the documents were problematic. At the time, the firm did not have a Document Management System (“DMS”) and our users’ email inboxes were ballooning from the influx of scanned documents. Whether the documents were being sent to a user’s email inbox or to a Windows folder, they were not organized or searchable from any centralized location. So, even though we had invested time and treasure in setting up the scanning, locating relevant documents remained an inefficient process. We began searching for a better method for storing and organizing the scanned documents.
We installed Autonomy’s iManage DMS and purchased AccuRoute’s iManage DMS Connecto, which allowed us to scan directly into the iManage client-matter folders. The process is simple — our administrative assistants print out AccuRoute scan routing sheets barcoded with client and matter designations, which help to easily route documents to the correct destination. The AccuRoute server interprets the barcode on each scan routing sheet and dutifully follows the embedded instructions. Typically, users opt to have the scanned documents converted into searchable PDFs and placed directly into a matter centric folder within iManage. The search engine automatically indexes the searchable PDFs and makes them universally accessible via simple full-text searching across a repository of nearly 20 million documents. AccuRoute — together with iManage — seamlessly alleviates our most troubling document management problems, putting us on the path toward greater efficiency.
Next, we utilized the proven AccuRoute-iManage process to streamline our workflow. When clients or surviving family contacted us years after their documents were originally executed, the inquiries were typically routed to the chair of the Trusts and Estates Department, who then tasked an assistant with locating the necessary files, which generally took between 24-48 hours. The lawyer would review the documents to familiarize themselves with the case, then answer client questions and email them copies of any relevant documents. The whole process was taking 48-72 hours – in unbillable time. With the right tools, we knew we could better serve our clients’ needs.
With the AccuRoute-iManage process in place, this slow process of responding to clients’ requests was replaced with a streamlined workflow and instantaneous access to files. All original trust and estates documents were pulled and scanned directly into matter-centric folders in iManage — 7,500 separate paper documents in all, averaging 30 pages each. We purchased a high-performance scanner and completed the entire project in under 9 months – ahead of schedule.
Today, our attorneys have instantaneous access to all relevant client documents, regardless of how long ago they were created. Within minutes, our attorneys can re-familiarize themselves with case details and provide meaningful information to the client, which has resulted in more client engagements and more time for attorneys to focus directly on revenue-generating matters.
Yet, paperLESS doesn’t mean paperFREE. We have accepted that most lawyers want a paper copy stored, which inspired our firm-wide records policym aimed at minimizing off-site storage once matters close. Users leverage the AccuRoute-iManage solution to ensure all documents are stored within our DMS. We also have “SCAN TO ACCUROUTE” quick buttons on our MFDs to make the simplify the process.
We are implementing similar projects in other departments; our Accounting Department now scans invoices directly into our PerfectLaw accounting system. We also plan to use the solution to digitize our mailroom, so we can deliver a digitized, searchable PDF copy directly to our attorneys’ inbox, whether they’re travelling or in the office. Using AccuRoute, our firm implemented technology that quickly became indispensable and made a substantial difference which directly benefitted our lawyers, staff and clients in a very visible way. We were able to help enhance our clients’ “trust” in our Trusts and Estates Department.
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker P.A.
In 1972, Shulman Rogers was founded on a commitment to client service. Today, the firm’s roster of highly skilled attorneys and other dedicated staff members are all guided by that same commitment. A client-first approach. A smart, efficient practice. A relentless focus on problem solving. And an underlying compassion — for our clients and our community. It all adds up to resolutionary thinking. The kind of thinking you can count on from the people of Shulman Rogers.
“Converting years’ worth of paper into searchable, instantly accessible content has substantially transformed our trusts and estates practice. Our proactive records scanning project saved our lawyers and staff countless nonbillable hours and has dramatically improved our service levels and overall client experience.”
Robert Baumgarten, CIO