Law Firm Makes a Case for Simplified Workflows

It’s no secret that complex litigation generates reams of files and paperwork. For the law firm of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, which specializes in large civil defense cases involving casualty, professional liability, health care and workers’ compensation, managing large volumes of documentation and ensuring that critical files and documents are available when and where they are needed is mission critical. With upwards of 500 lawyers in 20 offices scattered across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Florida, and Ohio, “There is a need to be efficient and manage costs,” explained Roger Bonine, the firm’s director of Information Technology.

Although the law firm has made every attempt to migrate from paper to digital systems, the basic realities of dealing with clients, other law firms and various court systems creates enormous challenges. Over the last several years, clerks have been forced to scan documents, run them through optical character recognition (OCR) software and handle an array of miscellaneous tasks, including time stamping the documents. What’s more, lawyers and others often require access to files outside the office.

“The paper and the staff time required to scan and sort documents is expensive and incredibly inefficient,” Bonine said.

In 2014, Marshall Dennehey recognized that it needed to upgrade its systems and software to better accommodate digital technology.

“We simply couldn’t handle the volume of the scans and the machines broke down frequently,” he said.

So, when the company’s copier contract expired at the end of 2015, it completely refreshed multifunction devices with various Ricoh models. In addition, the law firm turned to Nuance Power PDF in January 2016 to crumple the paper jam and guide the business toward a more seamless digital platform.

The system works with another piece of software, Kwiktag, which provides sophisticated tagging and document management features. The platform determines the destination for the file, places a barcode on the document, and then lets users scan a stack of documents and, after sending them to a server, sorts them and then routes them to the correct location within the business.

“The process dramatically simplifies workflows. People don’t have to know where to route the documents. They simply push a button and the software handles the entire task.” Bonine says that the technology is extremely accurate. Currently, the company processes about 800,000 pages per month, with almost a zero error rate.

The software platform met a number of key requirements, he notes. It allows the company to assemble court filings quickly and easily from a number of documents, including Word files, PDFs, and other formats. It also delivers a high level of flexibility, which allows the company and individual offices to establish and alter workflows as they see fit. For instance, it’s possible to scan the documents into a regular PDF or PDF-A (archival) format that courts sometimes require. Today, Marshall Dennehey also scans all incoming paper mail so that attorneys and others can access key documents and information on tablets, smartphones and other devices.

The law firm uses two dedicated virtual server hosts. The systems can process 50 simultaneous OCR and PDF conversions. Marshall Dennehey also relies on Microsoft Azure for switchover capabilities, if a hardware failure occurs. At one point recently, “We had to run the entire scanning operation in the cloud and users did not notice,” Bonine said.

“We have an extremely efficient, cost-effective and versatile document management platform in place.”

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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