Legal copying and scanning services are essential to successful litigation.
The legal world still loves its paper, and BIA’s Denver reprographics center is proof that the industry of printing, scanning, and copying is still alive and well in litigation. “Paper” is not just slang for money—in the legal domain it includes documents, binders, sheets—literal paper. It’s easy to redact, easy for note-taking, easy to manipulate and index, and easy to present to opposing counsel or a judge.”
So, why would BIA, trusted eDiscovery and legal technology experts, be talking about paper?
Though the bulk of BIA’s business is in eDiscovery and digital litigation support, the company has spent nearly twenty years working with attorneys and paralegals across all areas of the litigation process. So we fully understand how critical it is to retain expertise and a capable workforce in the world of reprographics, scanning and printing. That’s why BIA maintains a full reprographics production center in Denver, Colorado.
My Introduction to Legal Reprographics
I started out in the mortgage industry as a post closer. Before the age of emails and eSign documents, it was all about paper, and documents would often go missing. So, I’d have to reach out to appraisers, borrowers, sellers, real estate companies and title companies to obtain missing documents so that people could refinance or otherwise complete the mortgage process. That’s how I started out working with documents.
I found another job working in a warehouse—pretty uneventful. One day, a friend who was doing reprographics in Denver reached out and said that they needed help. At the time, I had no clue what reprographics entailed as a profession, and I definitely didn’t know that an entire industry existed to help law firms and corporate legal departments copy and scan documents for litigation. So I started there as a temp, and ten years later, here I am.
Foresight 20/20: Anticipating the Snags
A lack of a doctorate in nuclear physics won’t exactly hobble your career in reprographics, but to do the job well, and to anticipate all possible complications for every service needed, you’ve got to have the experience, and you must be detail-oriented.
The basic gist of reprographics work is to assist paralegals and alleviate their workload. But what really sets apart an ideal reprographics professional is their experience — that powerful teacher that breeds accuracy, precision and the readiness to do the work exactly right. A mediocre technician would just grab the gig, often without any particular insight about the details of the project. But clients feel the difference of a great reprographic relationship when the reprographics services personnel are thorough and go above and beyond.
A passive worker will just rely on the paralegal for an explanation of those needs, whereas the experienced reprographics expert will anticipate the needs beforehand and guide the conversation with the paralegal in a way that prevents mistakes and waste later on in the project.
A reprographic assessment isn’t as simple as showing up to a client’s office and being told, “Copy that box, scan that box.” The seasoned legal reprographics professional will know the appropriate questions to ask the client: “Do you want color for color? How do you want the work delivered—by CD, thumb drive, or other electronic means? Do you need Bates labeling?” And so on.
Reprographics professionals in the legal industry look at the available documents and make all sorts of determinations about copies, clips, staples, colors, binders, tabs, numbering, scaling, and more. (Did I mention that we are detail-obsessed?)
Details, Details: Perfectionist Printing
In reprographics, every aspect has to be perfect. Anyone who’s ever worked in a law firm has witnessed that Perry Mason moment where — hold on… flip-flip-flip through the binder — the crucial document… is not there! Despite all the progress integrating technology in legal environments, this botched-job, nightmare copy scenario continues to play out in courtrooms every day, in every state.
Case teams know all too well the value of a great reprographics partner and that what fuels an extraordinary reprographics team is its efficient workflows and accountability. Great legal reprographics partners also know how to wrangle data and documents into something seamless and beautiful while maintaining the perfect quality control to avoid the paper fail.
When an attorney hands over boxes of documents that they’ve carefully and painstakingly reviewed, redacted and re-ordered, our job as legal reprographics professionals is that of an artist: to make something beautiful with the materials we’re given.
Copying, scanning and checking alignment may sound easy, but if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing, it is surprisingly easy for pages to disappear or fail to be scanned. We have to predict technical blips or any other combination of issues that could lead to subpar presentation such as toner ink streaks, the wrong page contrast and illegible type. After a decade of experience working on legal document productions, I can anticipate, diagnose, and ultimately avoid problems that might not otherwise be on the client’s mind.
There are layers of intricacy hiding in a single box of paper. Anyone with legal production experience knows the heavy crunch and burning frustration of incomplete or inaccurate instructions. The ones who care about completion learn quickly to forecast all possibilities, manage their time, and to follow reliable, effective workflows.
Good quality control means performing page-by-page comparisons and looking for skewed, dark, weirdly stuck feeder documents, misspelled tabs, bad toner, and splattered documents. In a box containing 3,000 pages and multiple features per page, there are so many things that can go wrong!
Point is that the opportunity for error in such a manual process is significant. So in order to be a leading reprographics provider, as BIA is in its Denver facility, that provider must pay attention to detail and ask the right questions — and lots of them — from the start of every project.
The Current & Future States of Paper
Of the three big reprographics areas: copy, scan and print, at the moment I see a majority of print work. A typical example: we are often asked to create trial notebooks (exhibit notebooks), i.e., all the exhibits that will be presented and argued over during litigation.
In addition to their own documents, counsel may receive opposing party productions and need those printed. My job is to get everything prepared electronically and arrange tabs to the client’s specifications. That way, when the attorneys go to pretrial conferences and hearings, and the judge or mediator asks to review what exhibits each side will use, adjustments to the files that have already been prepared for the case can be quickly and easily adjusted as needed.
We also always add tabs such as numerical, alpha, or other custom tab styles so that all parties can easily reference documents and so that people don’t simply lose their place in the trial binder. At the BIA Denver reprographics facility, we strive hard to prepare productions accurately from the get-go so that when they are revised (any number of times) based on the needs of the trial preparation, those revisions are quick and are done right. Through every step of the process, we also rely on our detail-oriented team members to perform strict quality control.
As digital as our society has become, people still want that physical paper copy to flip through. As a lawyer, there is something still relevant and comfortable about that tactile feeling of paper in your hands.
For BIA clients and for our legal production team alike, it’s much more common to replace or revise pages in a physical binder, versus to carve out pages in an electronic version, though those electronic revisions occur a lot too, of course.
As for the future of the legal paper business, I would wager that it will continue at the same rate it’s been going for the past several years, if not see an increase in activity and needs.
Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many industries and livelihoods, and there’s been a recent slowdown in projects hitting our desks as well, but I believe that is just a temporary hiccup. Cases are still coming; judges still want exhibit notebooks as part of the trial.
A big project coming into our office soon involves a huge archive from a carceral system that had eleven different locations—we’re starting to digitize a huge amount of records to be used at trial. We’re also seeing people scan boxes that take up valuable real estate, whether it’s a file room, or in a rented document facility.
Now, in summer 2020, our country is being reminded of how much of our medical and governmental data is still sent by fax. Trust me, the litigation world (and others) will continue to need scanning, printing and reprographic services for years to come.
Memorable Jobs & Unexpected Challenges
A couple cases that stick out in my memory:
- I recall working at another copy shop where a pile of boxes came in, and in each box there were multiple CDs buried inside Redwelds. After a quick check of the “please copy any CDs you find” instructions from the requestor, I was shocked to see the copy operator (and the sales rep) debating whether to “copy” the CDs onto blue or pink slip sheets. With a clenched smile, I suggested that the client might want the CDs DUPLICATED, not actually photocopied. That call to the client to confirm my suspicion may have been a bit awkward, but at least the much bigger “uh-oh” moment was avoided.
- We were doing a case for one of the biggest water parks in the country. However, one of the park’s office rooms flooded, and when that happened, the sewer broke. So, this giant scanning job we had kind of smelled like… yup… and we had to wear gloves and masks.
A couple challenges that I’ve encountered in the field:
- Wet documents make for extremely difficult jobs. Paper that is wet will crinkle as it goes through a scanner. (Anyone who’s tried to flatten out a receipt or dollar bill with a hairdryer will understand.)
Loyalty & Love
I love my job! It’s very challenging and has kept the juices flowing for ten years and counting. When I pick up jobs, I get to interact with people and I genuinely enjoy developing positive relationships with my clients.
If you call the BIA Denver reprographics facility, my team and I will go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure your project is not only done on time but that it surpasses your expectations. Our team gets a real sense of gratification and accomplishment that the job is done well.
Joining BIA was a great move for me. As head of the Denver reprographics center, I’ve got one foot in business development and the other in operations. I now have a much broader range of resources and skills that I can tap, and the culture at BIA encourages that my team and I to reach out to co-workers across the nation with any questions and to help solve problems in a collaborative way.
At our Denver reprographics facility, BIA combines industry experience and service professionalism to ensure the delivery of high-quality reprographics services and legal document productions. We have qualified reprographics operators and take stringent quality control measures that many copy shops ignore.
At BIA, we offer a one-stop-shop type of experience that includes copy operators, QCers, and me (hi!): the perfect team for a paralegal or attorney to call upon for all of their copy, scanning and litigation binder creation needs. Our sincere goal at the BIA Denver reprographics center is to become your #1 source for legal document productions and your first (and only) call for reprographics in the Denver and across Colorado and the greater Western Mountain region.
I’m a Virgo—that whole detail-oriented thing. On the weekends, you can find me smoking a brisket or a pork butt. My go-to method involves hickory wood and a lot of hours. (For more details—and there are always more details—you’ll have to holler at me for your next repro job.) I’m a big Denver Broncos fan, and I love my two dogs, a puggle (pug-beagle mix) and a Doberman-Vizsla mix.
Contact BIA Today
If you think that paper handling and document production is obsolete, you may want to think again. Paper, with all its possible utilization, still plays an important role in countless regulatory processes and in litigation as well as serving an incredibly important purpose in the lifecycle of discovery. For reprographics and scanning services, or if you have any questions about paper jobs for your litigation projects, get in touch with BIA today.