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Selecting a Printer/Copier for Your Law Office

Making copies!Making copies!Choosing a new copier for your law office can be daunting, whether a solo, small firm, or large firm. There seem to be so many options and considerations. Besides, do you really have time to talk to a bunch of sales reps and trek out to Best Buy and Staples? Don't start from square one. Here are 5 things to consider when saddled with selecting a printer/copier for the back office.

1.       Cost per copy. It is by far the most important consideration when purchasing a printer/copier. Many small law firms fall into the allure of getting a really cheap printer but then become stuck with having to purchase extremely expensive toner cartridges for many years. As a general rule all printer/copier manufacturers publish “cost per page” for toner and other consumables. Do a bit of research before purchasing. You might be surprised how much that cheap printer is costing you.

2.       Speed matters. The minimum for a desktop printer in a law office environment is 20 pages per minute. Anything less is not productive. For a workgroup (5 to 10 people) shared printer, 50 pages per minute is best. For a company-wide or production room printer, 80 or more pages per minute is standard. Anything less than the above speeds are a waste of time in a professional environment.

3.       Paper size. Luckily you’re mostly limited to 8.5x11 (letter) and 8.5x14 (legal). Paying extra for a printer that does other sizes (11x17) is frivolous unless there is a daily application for that size. For those occasional large format print jobs, looking at an outside vendor (Kinko’s, Allegra, etc.) is more cost effective than the additional cost of the printer, stocking oversized paper and the use of additional toner.

4.       What else can your printer do? Collating, offset stacking, stapling, and three-hole punching your documents is frequently overlooked as an option. Sure you can manually collate, staple and three-hole punch, but what you get is a potentially large time investment and a tired hand. You have to consider what your labor cost is for these services. Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you do any of these tasks on a daily basis you should purchase the automated feature. If it is weekly task, look hard at whether there is any way you can justify adding to you printer/copier purchase. If it is a monthly ordeal, and takes less than 4 hours don’t worry about it. If you are spending a full day, look at the cost for an outside source to perform the service for you.

5.       Monthly volume. All printer/copiers have a “safe” monthly volume range. Stick to that. Most manufacturers overstate the ability of their device to perform the volume stated for multi-year use. Sure, year one is great, but years two through five generally are plagued by breakdowns on printers that are used at or beyond their volume specifications.

If you’ve found several printer/copiers that look good do the simple math to compare.

Capital cost of copier - $7,000

plus

Cost per copy for 3 years - $1,800 (10,000 copies per month at $0.005 x 36 months)

plus

Maintenance Cost - included

Total cost - $8,800

Plan on replacing your copier/printer every three years. You may find it will last longer, and if so you’re one of the lucky ones. If not, at least you’re not surprised and have budgeted accordingly.

Good luck.

Related Post:

Designing a Law Office Brochure on a Budget

Comments for Selecting a Printer/Copier for Your Law Office


Name: Kiffin Hope
Time: Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great article, Stan! Thanks for the insightful info.

Name: Norm Silber
Time: Friday, May 23, 2014

I have found that Canon copier and printers that include a scan function generally compress scanned files (in PDF format) to a much smaller size than units from other manufacturers. This can be very important in sending scanned documents by email. I have found this to be true for a large Canon imagerunner 3235i with all the bells and whistles as well as a small Canon imageclass MF477n all-in-one. Scans from other brands ended up being to large to send by email.

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