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In this age of electronic filing, it is imperative to have a scanner in your office. Scanners also help reduce the reams of paper needed to copy and submit drafts of documents. With a scanner, you can e-mail documents to your clients, to other attorneys and electronically file them with the court.

There are a number of factors you should consider when choosing a scanner. These are as follows:

1. The cost - Scanners can cost as little as a few hundred dollars and can cost as much as several thousand. Consider your anticipated use - volume, etc.

2. Anticipated use - If you plan to use the scanner for copying correspondence, pleadings, exhibits, be sure you have one that takes the least amount of time to operate and consider the cost of the cartridges.

3. Consider where you will use the scanner and who will be using it.

4. Should you replace your photo copier - most leased copiers today are digital and combine high speed copying with collating, sorting, stapling as well as scanning and the ability to operate as a high-speed network printer.

Technically there are a number of specifications to evaluate. Each scanner has a maximum resolution capability when making a digital file from the original document. Higher resolution is important if you plan to scan both black and white and color images such as photographs. Documents require a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch) for letter-sized documents. To scan photographs, you need a resolution capability of 2,800 DPI or higher. Generally the higher the resolution, the higher the price of the scanner.

Another factor to consider is whether you plan to store images of documents or use optical character recognition (OCR) software to convert the file to words that can be edited in your word processor. Even though graphic images take more space on your hard drive, the purpose in scanning a document is to avoid chasing down the physical file, an image of the file being enough. There is no need to take the additional step of converting the image to characters.

Converting scanned images to text requires OCR software to translate the images to characters. Most scanners include a basic utility for this, however if you regularly translate documents you will need a more serious program such as Paper Capture which is included in Adobe Acrobat 6 or Scansoft’s Omnipage or Abbyy Fine Reader.

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