New ScanSnap Squad Member: Ernie Svenson on the Paperless Law Office

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
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I practiced commercial litigation for 20 years in a big law firm in New Orleans, and then for 6 years as a solo lawyer. I was able to make the shift because I learned to use technology effectively to do more with less.

I learned to be paperless while I was at the big firm. Not willingly, mind you. I was fortunate enough to have a stubborn friend who forced me to accept the obvious truth. At that point, I realized that getting rid of paper was a boon to efficiency.

Being paperless allowed me to start my solo practice. I would never have made the jump if I had to lease office space just to store file cabinets. When I left my old firm, I had everything I needed on a laptop.

ScanSnap became my law partner

In many ways my escape from BigLaw was made possible by my Fujitsu ScanSnap. The ScanSnap was affordable, reliable, and powerful enough to handle all of my document scanning needs. Pretty remarkable for a little device that takes up hardly any space.

Most people look at the iX500 ScanSnap and see a cute little machine. But I see freedom, a tool that helped me find a path to a less stressful way of practicing law. And, having found that, I want other lawyers to find that same path.

Johnny Appleseed rides again

For the past few years I’ve been teaching my fellow lawyers to do what I learned to do: that is, use the right technology (e.g. ScanSnap), and avoid the stuff that looks promising, but instead makes your face contort in agony.

In 2004, I started PDFforLawyers.com, to help lawyers learn to use PDFs in the practice of law. I just finished writing an ABA-published book, Acrobat in One Hour for Lawyers, which covers how to use PDFs to be more efficient. Being adept at manipulating PDFs is as important as getting the right scanner.

But having a ScanSnap and learning to work with PDFs is not the whole equation when it comes to being paperless.

So I co-founded PaperlessChase.com, a site that covers all the bases for developing a paperless law practice, and for learning which technology is useful and which is disastrous. I also travel the country speaking to Bar associations and industry groups.

And whenever folks ask me “what’s the best scanner for a law office?” I tell them that’s the easiest question I ever have to answer. Because, unlike most decisions that involve technology, in this instance there is only one choice. And invariably a few weeks or months later some of the attendees will email me and rhapsodize about how great their ScanSnap is.

Yeah, I know. It’s totally amazing.

All tech and no play makes a dull boy

When I’m not exhorting lawyers to embrace technology, I like to take pictures or do yoga. I also like to play my guitar for captive audiences, but they usually escape quickly once I start singing.

Ernie Svenson
Legal, ScanSnap Squad
http://www.paperlesschase.com/

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