Login | October 19, 2019

ScanWorks creates paperless offices

ScanWorks office manager Shelley Dietz, left, and owner Deb Monaco stand in one of their scanning offices. (Photo by Richard Weiner/Legal News)

Technology for Lawyers

Published: March 29, 2019

Half a decade ago, the Akron Municipal Court faced the same problems as courts across the state and around the country. They were running out of space to store old files.

In Ohio, criminal records have to be stored for 50 years and storing offsite would be expensive and brought up security issues.

Burgeoning technology seemed to mean that the court could “go paperless.” But how to do that?

Akron Muni Clerk of Courts Jim Laria was looking for a solution.

He did not have to go very far to find one. He landed at ScanWorks, a small Cuyahoga Falls company, which scanned and databased all of the court’s records up to 2010.

“ScanWorks did an outstanding job for us,” he said.

ScanWorks is the brainchild of attorney Deborah Monaco, who shifted from practicing law to women-powered entrepreneurship after a career that included working at Legal Aid, being a part-time magistrate in Summit County Domestic Relations Court and time spent in private practice.

After all that, said Monaco,” it was time to do something different.”

Monaco was in the process of digitizing her own files.

“I called around scanning services, and they were charging ten cents a page,” she said. “I thought that there had to be a better way. There was a need for something that could be available to most people, courts, law firms and businesses.”

A court needs to deliver information to the public online but if that data starts in 2010, the resulting searches of files before that still need to be physically searched at the courthouse.

That same principle is true of governmental agencies, of law offices where the attorneys need access to older files and to businesses at large that store data on paper in large rooms.

Laria said that Monaco’s legal background was a strong reason that she was picked for the job.

Security, chain of custody, access and other legal issues are within her wheelhouse, Monaco said.

“I carved out a little piece of the legal technology world,” said Monaco.

Most larger courts are mostly online, with smaller courts catching up. At some point soon, all court data will be electronic. But there is still the problem of the massive amounts of files stored in courthouse basements all over the state that need to be dealt with.

Starting on her own, Monaco acquired a used professional scanner (more expensive than most would guess) and opened a small office.

The response was almost immediate, she said. Law offices, courts and governmental offices contacted her and her business continually expanded until Monaco now has 10 employees and two rooms full of state-of-the-art scanners.

The scanners are mostly from Kodak and are not anything like the small office scanners that most people have in their offices. They are very expensive, can scan at a rate equal to as fast as the people doing and checking the scanning can move, and come with attendant software that databases the documents in a searcable format.

Monaco said that the company does its own maintenance on the scanners, which can run upwards of $15,000 each. That amount does not include software, which can be as much as $6000.

Scanning mass quantities of documents frees up physical storage space, while conforming to laws that require files to be accessible for years.

Although the company started in the legal side, ScanWorks quickly expanded into document scanning for general business.

One longtime customer is Akron’s Airframe Systems, which uses ScanWorks for their document management compliance, said Airframe’s Shaun Mellon.

Mellon said that they reach out to ScanWorks “once or twice a month” for document retrieval, in which boxes of documents are simply transported for scanning and the results are transmitted to Airframe.

Mellon said sometimes it gets a little tricky though.

“We are asked for documents from our customer at times like repairs initiated, parts used in repair or the costs associated with a specific repair, and we are forced to request an immediate scan of a folder we may have just submitted. 

“This is problematic and unavoidable, and Deb and her team always come through. 

“We have also gone through some management changes and we have had different projects to thin out our archived data,” she said. “Scan Works has been instrumental in this archival process. I am happy to work with a professional, locally owned business.” 

Now in a cramped, busy office with employees and paperwork stacked to the rafters, Monaco said she almost can’t believe how far she has come in such a short time.

There doesn’t seem to be any slowing down. She said she loves what she does and she “loves creating jobs for people.”

ScanWorks is ready to move any office into the modern, paperless world.