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Chesapeake, Virginia: The City Attorney’s Office

Chesapeake, Virginia: The City Attorney’s Office

There was near panic in the City Attorney's office. Someone had inadvertently destroyed the original files for a parcel of land that was part of an important real estate development. If the records could not be found, the deal would come to a halt and might not be resolved for years.

In desperation, one of the lawyers asked whether the files might possibly have been in the initial group of archives scanned into the city's newly-installed Laserfiche document imaging system. Someone else pointed out that there was a really easy way to check. Just type in any word, name or phrase associated with the project. In seconds, a report would let them know that the files were in the system or that it was time to head for the hills.

After a short pause, the Laserfiche screen produced a long page of references to the project, prompting a collective sigh of relief from all present.

"The system was hardly out of the box and it had already saved the day," said Kay Ragland, legal secretary for the office. "The lawyers got what they needed and everything worked out fine. In the process, we learned first hand that document imaging was going to be a vast improvement over the old way of keeping track of files."

City officials opted for document imaging about 18 months ago, when the municipal offices ran out of on-site storage space for records going back to the Chesapeake's incorporation in 1963. "We had at least 25 four-drawer file cabinets; and I can't tell you how many boxes were stacked around," recalls Ragland. "To find anything, we had to go through log books and file cards before we could even start to look through the drawers and boxes. It was a pain.

"With Laserfiche, everything is automatic. Plus, all eight lawyers and the six secretaries can call up the same file to their PC monitors and work from it simultaneously."

Configured and installed by Unity Business Systems, the Laserfiche system serves the City Manager and City Clerk in addition to the City Attorney. It has already eliminated the need for about half of the file cabinets and boxes.
The files are stored as unalterable electronic records on CDs, each of which contains the equivalent of one four-drawer filing cabinet.

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