The letter of the law: helping law firms overcome shipping and receiving challenges
Typical law firms handle a daily deluge of inbound and outbound packages and mail, much of it highly sensitive. The movement of this information from law firm to client and back is a significant piece of the business of law. But it's often hard for mail center staff to determine ways to efficiently and accurately ship, receive, track and deliver it all.
Take certified mail as one example. Every day, law firms send out sensitive documents — including mortgage information and financial documents, divorce forms and important case information — requiring client signatures. This leaves mail center staff with the challenge of not only sending all of these items, but of billing the right costs to the right client. There’s also the responsibility of keeping track of all the return receipt green cards that are returned to the firm once a client has signed for the letter. If one of these cards is misplaced or lost, the law firm may be unable to prove that it ever sent this information to the client.
Incoming mail and shipments represent a second challenge to a busy mail center staff. Flats, parcels and packages containing critical case information — typically original information that cannot be duplicated — regularly come into law offices. Knowing when critical mail was received and who signed for it is imperative to the firm. When a busy lawyer or paralegal calls the mail center to see if an expected piece of information has arrived, or who in the firm has it, the last thing he or she wants to hear is "We don't know." Law firm mail centers need to get the right package into the recipient's hands as quickly as possible, and capture total chain of custody throughout its journey inside the firm once it reaches the recipient. Similar processes are needed for receiving and logging client checks. Lost checks can lead to embarrassment for the firm, potentially even to lost clients.
But law firm processes for handling incoming packages and mail don't always align with best practices. This is especially true at smaller firms, where a receptionist or temporary employee may handle incoming mail, cobbling together their own methods for receipt, logging and in-office delivery. These causal processes can lead to lost or misplaced packages and critical mail, and cause trouble for lawyers who can't access documents entrusted to their care.
Automated receiving processes improve efficiency, visibility
Parcel management solutions from Pitney Bowes can help law firms more efficiently and cost-effectively deliver, track and receive packages, flats and mail. These solutions include the SendSuite® Live outbound carrier management program and SendSuite Tracking Online inbound parcel receiving and tracking software.
SendSuite Live software helps firms determine cost-saving alternatives to next day or two-day shipping. It displays current rates and services from a variety of carriers so that law firms can more easily choose cost-effective shipping services that meet delivery-date targets. Law firms can even reduce costs with the use of just one carrier. Door-to-door tracking is included. For United States Postal Service® certified mail, electronic Return Receipts (eRRs) replace hand-written “green cards” previously used to confirm delivery receipt and date. These eRRs save mailing staff the time spent filing, storing and organizing cards while also cutting costs by half: from $2.70 to $1.35 per piece of certified return receipt mail. Since these e-receipts are stored on the law firm's server, they can be viewed by everyone in the firm working on the associated case — even if those people work in different offices. SendSuite Live software also helps change the processes of charging back shipping expenses to the client into a completely automated process. It validates client mailing information, then automates the assignment of mailing and shipping charges to the appropriate client matter number.
SendSuite Tracking — available as a cloud-based service, or on-premises software solution — helps law firms automate and manage the entire lifecycle of inbound documents and packages. The automation of these processes can dramatically reduce the errors that arise from manual processes. By combining software, barcode technology and handheld devices, SendSuite Tracking software helps mail center personnel and other employees receive and track packages, pieces of mail and other sensitive case file information that enters the law firm. The solution electronically logs the date and time of incoming packages, records each time a piece changes hands and notes delivery to the ultimate recipient. This process provides visibility into the total chain of custody. The software also notifies recipients when items are ready for pickup or en route to their desks.
As a result of working with Pitney Bowes, law firms can often:
- Improve visibility into the total chain of custody
- Streamline manual accounting practices
- Reduce shipping costs
- Eliminate manual USPS Return Receipts
- Limit the number of packages or accountable mail lost or misdirected within the firm
With nearly 100 years of shipping, receiving and mailing experience, Pitney Bowes is qualified to help law firms improve processes for shipping and receiving sensitive documents. Take the time to learn more about SendSuite Live and SendSuite Tracking today.