Law Office Becomes Paperless with DocuWare7 Oct, 2013
Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm utilizes DocuWare to archive immigration applications and other legal documents. The move to paperless storage allows the firm to access case files remotely, share documents among employees and improve customer service, while securing sensitive information and reducing storage costs.
Name of Company: Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm
Location: North Carolina, USA
Application: Law files
Document types: Immigration applications, visa applications, green card applications, marriage and birth certificates and legal documents
Established in 1997, Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm is one of the largest immigration law firms in southeastern United States. The firm focuses on business immigration, family immigration and removal, also known as “deportation” defense. Approximately 80% of the firm's work is corporate immigration relating to bringing trained specialists into the United Sates for employment. Garfinkel is a member firm of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers or ABIL, made up of the 20 top US business immigration lawyers in the country. Today, the firm has grown to a team of 5 lawyers and 14 paralegals, who manage their case load using Immigration Tracker, a software suite for the law industry.
Garfinkel was storing all of its completed files in paper format and decided it was time to stop investing in filing cabinets and off-site storage space. They wanted to find an electronic document management solution and become a paperless office. Their system requirements included a system that could archive both electronic files and scanned paper images in one system, improve access to information and provide remote employees with easy self-serve access to case files.
Once the firm has been retained to assist an individual or employer, the client is sent by email a list of the documents to submit to the firm and asked to log onto the Garfinkel website and complete a questionnaire. Once the needed documents and questionnaire have been submitted, the immigration application materials are prepared and submitted to the correct agency. These agencies could include the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the United States Department of State (USDOS), the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), the United States Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP) or the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
Each application or case file is between 180- 400 pages and often must be submitted in paper format. Corporate immigration cases also require submittal of the company's annual reports and other financial documentation which can be quite lengthy and substantially increase the case file page count.
Garfinkel decided to implement DocuWare to eliminate the need to print their case files for long term storage, as well as to improve file access, portability and sharing while simultaneously moving towards becoming a paperless office. A few Kyocera multi-function devices were installed as part of their solution.
Today, documents such as birth and marriage certificates are scanned and digitally added to the case file. The original paper documents are returned to clients as soon as possible. Once the file is complete and all documents are received, they are scanned and indexed by: company name, foreign national name, matter number, process type and document type; then stored in DocuWare. Additional documents are added to the electronic file as needed. For example, the firm will receive a receipt in the mail from the USCIS confirming that an application has been received. Garfinkel will scan and store it in DocuWare with the rest of the file. From there it can be emailed to the appropriate client as needed. Other documents that may be added are Requests for Additional Evidence (“RFE”), relevant email such as a notification that the employee is no longer with the company, or that another type of visa is needed.
Garfinkel's digital archive has simplified file management at the firm. Employees, including remote staff, now benefit with instant access to completed case files. Digital files allow multiple employees to review a file simultaneously for easy collaboration. Clients also enjoy better service now that documents are not physically shuffled around the office and any authorized employee can step in when another attorney is busy in court.
Garfinkel works with the same companies over and over concerning the immigration status of various employees. Maintaining a digital copy of each company's financial statements saves time and energy when preparing corporate immigration applications.
The firm was so pleased with its document management system that it decided to back scan every case file created since their inception in 1997. Using temporary employees, Garfinkel scanned and archived over 400 boxes of files, reducing storage costs and providing the firm with a comprehensive database.
DocuWare is also used to electronically route and store faxes, simplifying administrative duties and ensuring a copy of every fax is archived.
"DocuWare was the piece of software we needed to complete our transition to a paperless office. It is a crucial part of the way we do business and every employee uses it every day. File retrieval is quick and accurate. Knowing that we will have 100% of each case file every time, from anywhere has streamlined our practice," said Keller
"We provide exceptional immigration law service to our clients. Immigration status affects not just the corporation, but individuals and families. With DocuWare in place and our move to paperless case files, any authorized employee is able to assist the individuals we ultimately are working for, allowing us to meet our goal of providing exceptional service to all clients," said Steven H. Garfinkel, Managing Partner.
At A Glance
Create a single digital archive of both electronic scanned files
Improve access to and collaboration on case files
Provide remote access to case files
Improved customer service with quick access to any case file
Easy collaboration on case files
Cost savings from eliminating storage costs
For detailed company information on DocuWare visit http://www.docuware.com