Advocating for Tech Solutions in the Twin Cities

Located in the heartland of North America, Minnesota’s natural landscape boasts picturesque half-dome bluffs with sheer rock cliffs, steep valleys, native prairies and rolling uplands. Known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the largest state in the Midwest has also earned a reputation as a leader in the fields of technology and electronics. From small startups to top firms, companies of all sizes and various industries are headquartered in the state’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

As new companies continue to grow and prosper in such a thriving business environment, there is one such firm that has been a leader in the community for decades. Founded in 1979 by six attorneys, Winthrop & Weinstine has grown to become a full-service entrepreneurial commercial law firm that currently employs more than 100 attorneys and 200 total staff members. The firm offers a full array of legal services to the community, including litigation in the areas of business and commercial, corporate and transactions, legislative and regulatory, employment, intellectual property, banking and finance.

The Challenge

Recognized by its peers as a leader in the legal industry, Winthrop & Weinstine keeps its eye on new technology for leveraging the firm’s future growth potential. The firm’s IT department is continually looking for new opportunities to streamline paper-intensive processes. When reviewing the current environment, it was apparent that improvements were needed to achieve greater company effectiveness, while maintaining the strictest of confidentiality for clients.

“At Winthrop & Weinstine, the clients we retain are truly the measure of our continued success, and they are the reason we strive to differentiate ourselves,” said Bob Olek, Chief Financial Officer at Winthrop & Weinstine. “A firm of our size requires technological solutions that not only reflect our corporate vision, but ensure our ability to respond to clients fast and in a cost-effective manner."

Law firms produce a tremendous amount of paper on a daily basis—copying and scanning legal documentation are critical components in their work flows. To support Winthrop & Weinstine’s demanding, paper-intensive process and output needs, IT Director Craig Wilson had previously utilized an all-in-one, off-the-shelf program designed for fax distribution, e-mailing, cost recovery and scanning purposes. While the product proved to temporarily ameliorate the company’s daily work flow issues, the software lacked the exibility to adjust and adapt to the company’s growing needs. It needed customization to manage the large volume of legal documents processed by the firm. Winthrop & Weinstine was searching for a comprehensive solution.

Determined to implement a solution with security features and make it easier to output documents throughout the entire firm, Winthrop & Weinstine’s IT department required a solution that could help improve its existing technology, fulfill its needs for customization capabilities and maximize productivity. The solution also needed to be integrated into its existing iManage infrastructure, one of the leading legal information management systems in the United States. As a result, Wilson evaluated different vendors and ultimately determined that Canon was the ideal provider to deliver a comprehensive solution that would not only reduce manual errors, but also help the firm customize document output for each unique court system’s requirements.

The Solution

Partnering with Loffler, its local Canon Authorized Dealer, Winthrop & Weinstine implemented a managed output and workflow solution consisting of imageRUNNER and imageRUNNER ADVANCE devices, imageFORMULA high-speed production scanners and uniFLOW software, Canon’s output management solution. For Winthrop & Weinstine, Loffler was able to provide a solution that enabled the firm to attribute document costs to each client for cost recovery, as well as provide a means of document distribution by e-mail and fax with security features.

By combining imageRUNNER and imageRUNNER ADVANCE devices, Winthrop & Weinstine saved time and vastly increased workflow productivity by scanning legal documents directly to the various court systems. On average, the firm would need to manage thousands of legal briefs (20- to 200-page documents) every month that were uploaded to various court systems in many states. Previously, if a document were too large, it would be returned immediately. The document’s file size would then need to be reduced and resent to the court, requiring additional labor time. The new customized workflows output documents based on the specific requirements and restrictions of each system.

The firm was able to make extensive use of the custom express e-mailing and faxing features on the device. To achieve the goal of document print freedom with security features, uniFLOW was deployed so that staff could submit print jobs and output them, on demand, from any device on the network managed by uniFLOW. Additionally, Loffler implemented a Canon-developed connector to iManage with custom settings specified by the customer so that they could seamlessly integrate with the firm’s existing document management system.

Oftentimes, visiting clients need to output their documents while at the Winthrop & Weinstine’s office. To facilitate this, guests can log-on to an internal wireless network and submit adhoc print jobs to the uniFLOW server. When a job is submitted, the guest is sent a job code via e-mail so the file can be printed on demand by an authorized user within the company. This helps with security of Winthrop & Weinstine’s normal print activity while providing guests with convenient printing as needed.

“uniFLOW gives us a nimbler infrastructure that adjusts—on the fly—as our firm continues to grow and expand,” Wilson said. “One of the best examples is in regard to our output of legal documents to the various court systems. For federal court filing, you are limited by the size of the document and container of the document and what you can upload to each individual court system. With uniFLOW, you can scan as much as you want, and the system actually breaks it down into multiple documents to upload to an individual court’s file size requirements. Time savings from this particular customization alone proved to be worth its weight in gold.”

Craig Wilson | IT Director | Winthrop & Weinstine

The Results

By partnering with Loffer and implementing Canon products and solutions, Winthrop & Weinstine realized the following benefits:

  • Increased productivity by being able to adapt the scanned document file size to submission requirements of the various court systems
  • Implementation of streamlined document distribution via scan to fax and scan to e-mail with security features
  • Ability to attribute document costs to each client for cost recovery
  • Mobile printing
  • Customizable device settings that allow enhancements to evolve
  • Reduction of manual errors through automation
  • Reduction in IT burdens in regard to support and maintenance

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