Legal Document Scanning

IRIS Partner: Canon Germany

Digitizing legal records for a paperless workflow

One of the main focuses of the law firm Brinkmann Attorneys is on legal accounts receivables management. This entails a high volume of incoming documents via postal mail, which is distributed among the 12 offices of the law firm. Together, Wolters Kluwer and Canon have developed a novel Digital Mailroom solution based on IRISXtract™ with the law firm, which ensures an automatic scanning and allocation of the numerous legal documents to the respective case and case officer.

Using an OCR solution to digitize and allocate incoming legal records

The software AnNoText by Wolters Kluwer serves as a central system for the management of case matters and documents. Within AnNoText every office used to maintain its own SQL database. On this basis, the agents assigned their own case matter numbers to the files. The incoming mail was sorted by hand in the mailroom and sometimes given by courier to the lawyers or clerks of the other offices. In a next step, the documents to be archived were returned to the mailroom in order to scan them and manually assign them to the case matters in the registry.

With around 8,000 incoming documents daily the disadvantages of the process became increasingly clear: there were long, occasionally wrong postal routes and no security in the procedures, since these were not supervised or logged. “We wanted to automate this process and put legal document scanning as a first step. The assignment of legal records to the respective office should take place as soon as the data are collected”, says Law Firm Manager Jürgen Aust, describing the essential requirement. The incoming mail will in future be digitized, assigned a unique case matter number and transferred to AnNoText. The workflow for the responsible lawyers and clerks will be fundamentally automated.

A paperless workflow via Digital Mailroom Automation

Due to the long-standing relationship of Brinkmann Attorneys and Wolters Kluwer, the partnership between Canon and Wolters Kluwer meant an opportunity for an industry-wide pilot project for the law firm. In two workshops, an approach for the digital processing of legal records and their logical assignment to a case matter was worked out. In the future, documents will be scanned directly from the mailroom and read in by the OCR solution IRISXtract™ from Canon and automatically added to the case matters.

“We started by having two of our twelve offices on the new way of working,” says Law Firm Manager Aust. The administrators have thus realized a paperless workflow. After capture, they receive a ToDo and go directly to the scanned document in their familiar interface in AnNoText. Leading identifier for each file is the unique case matter number. In addition, there are other criteria that IRISXtract™ recognizes to ensure proper allocation: whether a piece of paper, e.g. comes from a court, an authority, or a debtor. “We trained the software for identification and from the beginning we made sure that the demands were not too high so that we could become productive immediately,” says Jürgen Aust. That way, the rate of automatic recognition from 80% initially increased to 90% within a few weeks. Thanks to the power of IRIS, the incoming mail can be scanned in mixed batches today – the assignment happens reliably in the background. The firm provides its clients with the relevant transactions via its own portal so that they can always find out about the current status of the claim procedures.

The Digital Mailroom holds genuine added value for large law firms

With the solution from Canon and Wolters Kluwer, the law firm Brinkmann Attorneys has halved the personnel expenditure for the collection and assignment of legal records. Editing is faster and smoother today than before. In addition, the firm saves archive space, since only about 10% of all documents are kept.

“In this pilot project, we have created a product that is ready for series production, which offers genuine added value, especially for large law firms such as ours, even against the background of the digitization of legal transactions demanded by law,” says Jürgen Aust. Long filing and search times are a thing of the past. Only poorly readable documents are still processed by hand. The logged processes have reduced the error rate in the processing and eliminated cumbersome postal routes. In addition, the solution was operational and capable within a few weeks and will be extended step by step to the whole law firm. The integration of emails and fax into the IRIS system is planned.

“We have set up a paperless workflow and at the same time assure the automatic assignment of the documents in the correct files,” says Jürgen Aust satisfied. Of the approximately 8,000 documents arriving daily by postal mail, around 2,500 documents were scanned and automatically assigned as of the start of this project. This number increases continuously with the expansion of the solution.

AnNoText and Canon’s document scanners and IRISXtract™ Digital Mailroom solution will be distributed as a package under the product name “Mailroom Premium – The Autopilot for Documents”. Existing installations of AnNoText, such as in the law firm Brinkmann, can be extended by the “Mailroom Premium”.

With Mailbox Premium of Canon and Wolters Kluwer, we have optimized the collection and allocation of incoming mail for our diverse offices. Already today, we are saving 50% of the previously required capacity and we will continue to expand the solution. Especially for law firms with a larger volume of incoming mail, automation of this process is essential to provide clients with real added value in the future.
Jürgen Aust, Law Firm Manager, Brinkmann Attorneys

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Key facts

  • 90% recognition rate
  • Personnel expenditure halved
  • 90% less archive space needed
  • Reduced error rate