Magazine Article | October 24, 2007

Law Firm Finds Relief In RFID File Tracking

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, November 2007

With Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and the Wright Brothers among its earliest clients, the 128-year-old law firm of Fish & Richardson today defends more patent litigation than any other firm in the United States. Lacking an automated tracking system for their physical files, Fish & Richardson's paralegals and legal secretaries were devoting countless hours to the low-productivity task of searching for files in offices, on desks, and in file cabinets. Billing time was being lost, professional skills were being misused, and expensive office space was occupied by files that were irrelevant to current casework.

Management recognized the need for a better system for tracking and retrieving physical files and became aware of how the emerging application of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology could address this problem. The firm evaluated several RFID platforms and ultimately selected the 3M RFID Tracking System.

The Trademark Group of Fish & Richardson's Boston office was selected as the test site for installation of the system. Installation was accomplished in three phases to provide minimal disruption of the normal workflow. First, the 3M database was populated with records from the existing records management system. Second, file folders were tagged with 3M RFID Tracking Tags. After tag programming was complete, the files that once occupied two file rooms now were consolidated into one central file room, achieving the goal of conserving office space. For the final step, an entire office inventory was performed with the 3M Handheld Tracker to assure that all files were accurately recorded in the database, and a 3M Tracking Pad was installed in the central file room to check files in and out.

Once the 3M RFID Tracking System was installed, management saw an immediate increase in productivity. Remarkably, file accuracy was improved by 60% even before the Tracking Pads were installed at individual workstations.

"During a weekly teleconference shortly after the installation of the 3M file tracking system, I was asked to comment on how we handle missing files," recalls Debra Rose Brillati, Trademark Practice Systems Manager. "I responded that since we've been using the 3M RFID system, we don't have any missing files."

The 3M System also eliminates unnecessary time employees spend searching for misplaced files in the office. The total savings per year with the 3M file tracking system installed in the Trademark Group alone is estimated at $144,000. Based on the success of the RFID system in the Trademark Group, Fish & Richardson decided to deploy the solution in all of its offices nationwide.