Scanning: 6 Important Things to Consider

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

Will paper ever go away? Maybe…when paralegals are working on Mars.

Since paper is not going anywhere, let’s dive into important things you should consider when handling a scanning project. It may not be as straightforward as you think.

Getting instructions right

Like a deposition, you typically have one chance to scan client documents, so take the time to create clear instructions. Below are a few points to consider:

  • Black & white versus color - Is color critical to interpret the meaning of the document? Color scanning per-page rates are typically 3-5 times higher than black & white.

  • Optical character recognition (OCR) - Do you want to be able to search the text? There is typically an extra charge for this.

  • File format of deliverables - Do you want the images delivered as PDFs, TIFFs, etc? Check the production format to help with guidance here.

  • Document breaks - What is considered the start and end of a new document? Staples, paper clips, tabs, etc? ‘Lowest physical break’ is a common way to handle document breaks and one to consider.

  • Capturing fields - Unlike ESI, hard copy documents do not have natural metadata. You need to create it yourself. Check to see if there is any data you want to be associated with the document before scanning. This may be Box Number, Binder Title, etc.

Where are the documents being hosted?

Once scanned, where will the documents live so that people can look at them? The answer to this question will impact the approach you take to scanning and deliverable format. Many firms put documents on their internal shared drives. There are also new document review platforms that are designed to speed up review. If you are using a document review platform, you will need to ask the vendor for a ‘load file’ that is compatible with the application.

Capturing off-page information

The path of least resistance is to give the vendor paper with general instructions and let them do their thing. This can be a mistake if there is critical ‘off-page’ information you may want to capture. Examples of this could be things like - What custodian did this document come from? What department does this document belong to? Take the time to review the collection and see if there is any information you need to capture when scanning.

Is there already ESI?

Given the explosion of digital data, there may already be Electronically Stored Information (ESI) for the case. You should check to see if there is and how the paper documents fit in. If the ESI has a unique document ID, you may need to make sure the paper documents are labeled correctly so they do not duplicate a document ID given to an electronic record.

Off-site versus on-site scanning

Clients often hesitate when they learn their documents need to head off-site and ask if the vendor can come on-site to scan. Before this happens, know that on-site scanning is substantially more expensive than off-site. The main reason is a vendor will charge hourly for the labor that needs to come on-site and will not charge for this if the documents are processed in their facilities.


Scanning projects can be more complicated than one may think. Make sure your instructions well thought out and there are no surprises in the work product you want to receive. Trust your vendor as well. They handle these projects routinely and can help guide you through the process. If you have any questions, please say reach out to us and we will be happy to help!

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