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Bring Online Fax Into the Future

by Ryan Anderson

on 28 February, 2019

 

Rapper Cardi B is mostly triumphant in a new commercial which tests her knowledge of the ’90s. She shines at the Macarena and rocks her slap-on bracelets. But when it comes to the fax machine, all she can do is swear.

Cardi B speaks for a generation who thinks faxing is obsolete. The fax machine doesn’t even seem to generate any iconic hipster nostalgia.

So it’s a good thing Cardi B isn’t an attorney. Because she sings that she likes her “million dollar deals” — but for legal, medical, and financial professionals, that deal might rely on timely fax.

Faxing is a staple of legal communication. It’s the dominant form of document-sharing for many hospitals, police departments, businesses, and government agencies. It’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, in some industries, the reliance on fax and online fax is growing.

Additionally, attorneys who practice internationally find that in many other countries (such as Japan, Germany, and Israel) the fax still reigns supreme.

Some attorneys fax dozens of documents every day. Some will only see one fax a year, but that one might be critical for a case. All of these attorneys face a faxing pain point: How can you best integrate faxing into a modern, efficient legal practice?

There’s now an elegant solution: use case management software that includes online fax capabilities.

Here are 8 reasons to embrace the next generation of faxing technology:

1. Keep case information in one place

We live amid information overload. We’re bombarded by signals and distractions from every corner. But as data design pioneer Edward Tufte taught, information overload is actually organization underload.

Exhibit A of Tufte’s principle: a scattered, messy case file. Some information is printed out and stored in a filing cabinet, while you also have some documents saved to your computer hard-drive, and others stored in the cloud. Emails, texts, calendar deadlines, and handwritten notes are spread across the office and distributed among several members of your legal team.

To turn this information overload into coherent, actionable data, attorneys have embraced better organization techniques. Cloud-based case management brings all data into one system, clarifies your task flow, and allows you to stay focused.

But until recently, it was difficult to bring fax into this unified system. You would usually print a document, fax it, and return to your case notes to record that it was faxed. That’s leaving alone the process of scanning and uploading any received fax into your system.

Now, you can use Filevine Fax instead. Fax directly out of your case file with a few clicks, and automatically sort incoming fax into your case management system.

By keeping your case information in one place, you avoid the stress, burn-out, and mistakes brought on by information overload.

2. Improve efficiency

When Filevine announced its new online fax feature, California firm Century Park Law Group signed up immediately. Partner Sam Tabibian explains:

“We’re excited to see how much more efficient we’ll be with Filevine Fax. We have a paperless practice, so this is a better fit for us. We expect this to cut out the steps we’ve had to take and make this process much more efficient than it has been.”

Filevine Fax takes place with a click of a button. Without it, you’re either scanning in and uploading hard documents — or you’re losing time as you file and retrieve hard-copy documents.

With other online fax programs, extra steps have to be taken by opening other apps or software, then importing received documents into the right case file.

But when online fax is integrated directly with your case management system, you can skip those steps and make the process clean, simple, and intuitive.

3. Ditch the extra hardware – and software

No one has ever called a fax machine “elegant.” More common adjectives might be: clunky, dusty, ugly.

With online fax, you don’t need to buy, maintain, and find counter space for another machine. You don’t have to buy toner or fix paper jams. You don’t need to buy a separate phone line to link it to.

But perhaps most importantly: you don’t have to train new staff members on the workings of a fax machine. Millennials will come into your office with fluency in a whole host of technologies. But as Cardi B showed us, the fax machine – and even online fax – will not be one of them.

In addition, when faxing is integrated with the case management system you’re already using, you can ditch the cost and training of additional software for online fax services.

4. Go Paperless

The old way is designed for a paper-based office. It first became popular in an age of typewriters, as a glorious alternative to the postal service.

Attorneys function in a different ecosystem now. Increasingly, they are embracing paperless or paper-light offices. While this is often motivated by environmental and financial concerns, it’s also just easier. For many tasks, there is no reason to print out a document.

Filevine Fax fits snugly into a paperless workflow, saving you time and money (while maybe sparing a few trees, too).

5. Increase Security

Cybersecurity experts are warning that the next target of a cyber attack might be your fax machine. Fax machines that are connected to standard printers are the weak link in your IT network. Forbes warns:

“If you have a fax machine silently collecting dust while confusing the millennials in your office, remember that cybercriminals may only need your office’s fax number to hack your entire network.”

But going online instead doesn’t automatically resolve security worries. There’s also a risk in handing over sensitive documents to third-party software companies. It’s your ethical duty to take care when increasing the number of apps or programs with access to your data.

Model Rule 1.6 requires attorneys to “make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.” This ‘reasonable effort’ includes understanding the software’s encryption capacities, privacy policies, and protection from cyber attacks.

Some online fax software might not be designed for the high levels of security attorneys require. This is another reason why sticking with the proven security of modern case management software could be the best option for faxing.

6. Stay Mobile

With this winter’s record-breaking snowstorms, we’ve seen a spate of firms forced to close for a day. But we’ve also seen firms using cloud-based case management software announce that, though their physical offices were unreachable, their legal teams were still hard at work in their homes.

The fax machine has been a final hold-out on this kind of mobility. But with Filevine Fax, you can fax any document from any device, any time, anywhere.

7. Gain Confidence

With a traditional machine, you don’t know you’ve received fax unless you’re within earshot. If you hear the tell-tale screech, you can walk over and see what has arrived.

But sometimes, the screech goes unheard. And important, sensitive documents sit out on a tray all day before someone notices.

With Filevine Fax, you can receive instant notifications for incoming faxes. This can either be in your Filevine feed, or through text, email, or Slack.

When you’re sending faxes through this system, you can also rely on status indicators to inform you of the fax’s progress. They’ll note when the fax is pending, sent, and delivered, or when the transmission is blocked by a busy receiving line.

8. Integrate your workflow

Beyond any specific benefit, a system like Filevine Fax promises to keep your workflow integrated. You can add it into Taskflow Triggers, assign it out onto someone’s task list, and couple it with automation like document generation.

Here’s an example. Suppose you need to create a medical records request for your client and fax it to a hospital. Here are two workflow possibilities for the same task:

The Manual Workflow:

  1. Go to the filing cabinet and pull out the file information.
  2. Find a previously saved template for this kind of document, or create it from scratch.
  3. Type in the correct information.
  4. Save it to the right location.
  5. Print it out.
  6. Fax it to the hospital using a fax machine.
  7. File it in the filing cabinet.
  8. When you receive the records, scan those into your electronic records and/or file them back in the filing cabinet.

 

The Automated Workflow:

  1. From the online case file, click a button to generate the document (which will be automatically personalized with information pulled from the case files).
  2. Click a button to fax it.
  3. Receive the records directly into the case file.

Each additional step required in the first workflow doesn’t just eat up extra time. It’s also a moment where human fallibility can lead to a mistake. A file is misplaced or a document is formatted wrongly.

It isn’t difficult to see which work style wins out in successful, thriving firms.


 

A satirical website announced a solved mystery: “Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello Confirms It Was a Fax Machine.” It was really just some paper jams and toner blotches that caused all that fury.

But with the next generation of faxing technology, your law firm can avoid the rage, confusion, and frustration. Faxing can now be fully integrated with the workflows of modern firms.