Legal IT Newswire Case Study: Electronic tagging tech shaves hundreds of hours off document audits at Magic Circle firm

RFID is an established and proven technology which is ideal for law firms needing to keep track of sensitive files. It works by using labels, attached to the files, with an embedded electronic – ‘RFID’ – tag encompassing a small transmitter, processor and memory. The memory holds a unique identity, which can be read by scanning devices such as an RFID-equipped handheld computer or tablet.

To carry out an audit a user simply walks along the rows of files as the scanner interrogates the tags. RFID systems continue to develop, giving users greater capabilities such as increased read range for document tracking and auditing and now use smaller, lightweight handheld readers and mobile phone apps.

The experience of one Magic Circle law firm demonstrates the benefits. The firm, which has more than 2000 staff and tens of thousands of files across multiple floors at its London headquarters, had previously used barcodes to tag files. However keeping track of them was a constant challenge and, to carry out an audit, the document management team had to take out each file and scan the codes individually – a process that took up around 400 hours of staff time every quarter.

The team decided to replace the use of barcodes for auditing with a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) solution and chose CoreRFID to design the system and implement the project. The Ultra High Frequency standard RFID tags used in this case allowed them to recognise tags from a distance of around 10 feet, with the scanners reading hundreds of tags per second simultaneously.

The Result

Using RFID, the document management team can now scan the entire repository using a combination of mobile and fixed RFID readers and the information is immediately relayed to the database. It has reduced the staff time required to carry out an audit from 400 to just four hours – thus saving 200 working days since the system was installed a year ago.

When a folder has not been returned, the team scan the offices with the hand-held RFID readers, or mobile phones using an RFID app, which can detect any RFID tags within a two to three metre range – allowing missing files to be tracked down in minutes.

In addition to saving staff time, RFID has also reduced the time period in which an audit can be carried out from three months to an hour, as well as providing greater accuracy and enhanced security.

The firm’s document services manager comments: ‘We have always had comprehensive security procedures in place but are constantly seeking ways to improve efficiency. In particular we like solutions that are easy to implement and use, and don’t require lots of new equipment. The RFID system met all those criteria.

‘The system has made it much easier for us to manage our repository, as we can track files without physically seeing them. It also reduces human error and provides greater assurance in terms of security. It has exceeded our expectations and we’re working with CoreRFID to explore opportunities to expand the system, both in terms of functionality and locations.’

Munzi Ali, technical director of CoreRFID, comments: “It’s vital that law firms can track and monitor all case files and quickly retrieve the information whenever required. RFID technology allows them to check the location of files or other valuable assets in minutes. Security can also be enhanced for legal firms, with readers located at office exit points to detect when a file is leaving the building. RFID is ideal for any organisation that has to securely manage large numbers of records.”

CoreRFID works with over 1000 businesses across many industries and includes companies such as Thomas Cook and Capita in its growing client base.