“More valuable to the firm, however, is the immediate accessibility of these files. In terms of client service, it is impossible to quantify this benefit.”
– Kim Chewning, Firm Administrator of Salter, Feiber, Murphy, Hutson & Menet, P.A.
Salter, Feiber, Murphy, Hutson & Menet, P.A. is a law firm located in Gainesville, Florida. Founded in 1974 by James D. Salter and James G. Feiber, Jr., the firm concentrates on real estate law, business and corporate law, commercial litigation, contract law, negligence, personal injury, wrongful death, and workers’ compensation.
The firm places a high value on personal service and professional ethics, and throughout the years has built strong relationships with its clients. Their repeat business and referrals have led to strong and continuous growth. Like most law firms, Salter Feiber deals with vast amounts of documents, a significant portion of which needs to be kept for long periods of time. “We tried to keep the files closed during the last 12 months onsite,” said Kim Chewning, Firm Administrator. “Everything else was sent to a third party for storage in a secure facility.”
However, as the archive grew, so did the storage cost. Files closed within the last five to eight years were frequently required for reference, so Salter Feiber found that they had to send runners to retrieve files from the archive facility several times a week. This, too, was a considerable expense.
A bigger problem was that attorneys regularly had to wait for information. This delay was significantly impacting client response times. David E. Menet, partner at Salter Feiber, said “Client service is our number one core value, and we are not about to jeopardize it. With today’s technology, we knew there had to be a better way to manage our documents.”
Selecting a Solution
Kim Chewning headed up the team that was assigned to recommend a solution. Using the Internet, they researched a range of products and ended up with a short list of possible solutions. The goals were straightforward:
1. Improve client response times.
2. Improve accessibility of closed case files for all firm personnel.
3. Completely eliminate external storage.
4. Seamless incorporation of active case load to achieve paperless environment in the future.
After extensive evaluation, the team selected Contentverse. “Contentverse offered superior features at an extremely competitive price,” said Chewning. The firm’s partners unanimously approved the team’s recommendation of Contentverse for the following reasons:
• User Interface (UI): The combination of the easy-to-use digital file cabinet structure and the powerful index and content searches is ideal for users of all levels.
• Flexibility of indexing: The ability to quickly create custom index fields and document types based on the way the users typically searched for documents. Contentverse was able to accommodate this perfectly.
• Ease of output to print, email, etc. This is the most common reason to retrieve materials.
“We put a lot of thought into the planning of the folder structure and document types,” said Chewning. “The Contentverse team was very patient during this process. They listened carefully, asked intelligent, challenging questions of our work processes and proposed plan, and offered valuable insight and suggestions. Their ability to quickly grasp our unique vision for the use of their product ultimately led to a flawless implementation of Contentverse.”
Chewning is very pleased with the way Contentverse was deployed. She said that “from day one, user acceptance has been great. A key consideration was that we wanted to make sure that the less computer savvy users would not feel lost in the transition. We therefore set up Contentverse’s digital file cabinet to mimic the filing structure in our file room. This worked very well and within a week or two, many people were comfortably using the advanced searching capabilities of Contentverse.”
Fourteen months after implementation, SFMHM has discontinued the use of all file cabinets – all newly closed files were being scanned and indexed in a timely manner and, on a regular basis, files were being removed from storage and scanned, thus continuing to reduce the monthly storage cost. Now these files are instantly accessible by all attorneys, paralegals and administrative staff.
Salter, Feiber, Murphy, Hutson & Menet, P.A. was able to immediately reverse the steep climb of external storage charges. Files are scanned immediately after being closed, and older files are being permanently removed from storage to be scanned, further reducing and eventually eliminating all storage charges.