How to Take Your Paperless Law Office to the Next Level for Under $60

It's been a while since I blogged about anything other than divorce and prenuptial agreements. However, because I know that other lawyers and mediators read this blog, I want to share how I took my paperless law office to the next level and eliminated most of the paper still remaining in my office.

If you've given any attention at all to building a paperless practice, then you already have a computer (of course), scanner (almost certainly a Fujitsu ScanSnap), and a shredder (I love my Fellowes Powershred 99ci).

But what about all those books on your shelves?

Every now and then, I come across a book that isn't available in ebook format. Maybe it's an older book that hasn't gotten the ebook treatment from its publisher. Or maybe it's a book published by the American Bar Association, which inexplicably insists on publishing many books in physical formats only. I ran into this recently with Brian Tannebaum's new book, The Practice: Brutal Truths About Lawyers and LawyeringAlthough you can order it from the ABA's website, which does have ebook versions of some titles, this book is only available in hardcover. (Another book initially released by the ABA in physical form only was Becoming the Tech-Savvy Family Lawyer — one can't help but chuckle at the irony.)

For less than $60 (depending on sales tax in your location), plus the equipment you already own, you can fix that.

All you need is a box cutter and a paper cutter.

Here's what you do. First, use the box cutter to remove the binding from the book. The glue will still be holding the pages together along the binding edge, so use the box cutter to separate the book into 10-20 page chunks. Then, use the paper cutter to remove the glued edge from each chunk. You will now have a neat stack of loose-leaf pages.

All that's left to do is scan the book.

At the end of this straightforward process, you will still have a paper copy of the book, albeit without a binding. If you insist on keeping it, you will need to use an alligator clip or some other means to hold it together. More importantly, you will have a PDF copy of the book. This copy will be readable on your computer, tablet, or phone. As a huge bonus, if you've run character recognition on the PDF (which you really should consider doing with all your scanned documents), the book will be fully searchable. That will make it much easier to find that elusive quote when the time comes to use it. With the right software, you can highlight, underline, etc.

If you get the same box cutter and paper cutter that I did, your total cost will be under $60 — that's $48.50 for the paper cutter and $7.25 for the box cutter, plus 6.5 percent Massachusetts sales tax. With Amazon Prime, shipping is free.

So there you have it: a simple, low-cost way to eliminate even more paper from your office and bring some of those older (or ABA-published) books into the 21st Century. What other ways have you found to modernize your law practice? Share your comments below!