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Document Management for Personal Injury Attorneys

checklistAnyone who works at a personal injury law firm knows that it runs on paper. From the initial intake documentation to the final settlement agreement, most personal injury practices are swamped with paper. Documents are piled up on desk tops, crammed into drawers or stuffed into files. With so much paperwork flying around, it’s possible for documents to end up missing even in an organized firm.

That’s why an increasing number of personal injury firms are moving toward electronic document management systems like Square 9. With the utilization of Square 9, there’s never a last minute scramble to find the transcript of a deposition or a medical bill. All of the related case data is available with a few keystrokes. The need to run from one computer to another or to perform a manual search through reams of paperwork are eliminated because all of the documents are available in a fully integrated, online environment.

The Basics of Electronic Document Management

Some personal injury lawyers are uncomfortable at the thought of giving up their paper files. However, installing an electronic document management system doesn’t mean that you can’t still use your familiar paper system. If necessary, the electronic document management system can be used to augment the existing document workflow. However, many attorneys who are reluctant to give up paper soon discover how efficient electronic management is. When they no longer have to look for documents or constantly ask an assistant to locate something, they work faster and can generally take on a heavier case load. Soon their paper files are largely abandoned, and they are still able to provide clients with the kind of quality, personalized representation they deserve.

An electronic document management system is organized similarly to a filing cabinet. Open any drawer of the filing cabinet, and you’ll find a number of file folders, each with a label. Electronic document management neatly parallels this familiar organization scheme. When a new client is taken on, their intake information is entered into the management system. Data such as their contact information and any documentation they provide can be entered or scanned directly into the system. Once the file is created, additional documents can be added at any time. Suppose that opposing counsel sends a letter via U.S. mail. The letter is immediately scanned and saved into the appropriate file. Within moments, everyone in the firm who is authorized to access that client’s file can be brought up to date on the latest happenings in the case.

Safety and Security

As in any law firm, client confidentiality is of paramount importance to the personal injury practice. No lawyer wants to be responsible for unauthorized individuals gaining access to privileged information. Firms go to great lengths to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Electronic document management is one more way to protect a firm from the liability created by a breach of confidential information.

Instead of toting cartloads of documents to various meetings at other offices, attorneys can have electronic access to them. Via a smart phone, tablet or laptop with an Internet connection, law firm personnel can remotely log in to Square 9 to access the documents they need. There’s no danger of losing documents in a cab or forgetting them on a table in a restaurant if the documents are all remotely stored elsewhere.

Moreover, electronic management protects the firm’s files in case of fire, flood or other natural disaster. Even if the firm’s offices are destroyed, their files are still intact, safely stored electronically at a remote and highly secure location. The firm is able to continue their practice with only minimal disruptions.

Recent changes to HIPAA regulations have made it more critical than ever for personal injury firms to protect confidential information. It’s common for lawyers in this practice area to come into the possession of a great deal of protected health information, or PHI. Should an unauthorized person gain access to PHI through a law firm, the attorneys can be held liable for the breach. That could mean fines of up to $1.5 million. It’s important to understand that an unauthorized person could even be a law firm employee who is not directly working on the case. Considering how easy it is for another attorney in the office or support personnel to see confidential documents, the potential for a breach in an office that relies strictly on paper is enormous.

That potential can be largely mitigated by the use of software like Square 9. PHI and other confidential data is safeguarded by only permitting certain office personnel to access particular case files. Each access of the documents is tracked by the software, making it easy to demonstrate who reviewed the files and prove that no breach has occurred. Protecting client confidentiality has never been easier than it is with Square 9.

Improve Responsiveness and Performance

With Square 9, everyone involved in a case can always be aware of its status. When the client calls in for an update, information is already at the attorney’s fingertips. Each document that goes into the system is coded by relevant keywords. Search for appropriate keywords, and a list of documents is presented. From there, choosing the right document is a piece of cake.

Even if the primary counsel on a particular matter is out of the office and something urgent arises, the firm is able to respond effectively. No one has to look for a paper file that may not be in the office or may not be up to date. Every related document is already in the system, so any issues can be addressed with ease.

Square 9 also capably integrates with other software that is commonly used in personal injury law firms. Docketing, word processing and accounting programs can all be linked so that information can be entered once and then populated in a multitude of places. With an electronic document management system like Square 9, personal injury law firms are able to help more clients and improve their performance.

Check out the video below to get an idea how Square 9 can help out your Personal Injury Law Firm