The Best Scanners for Lawyers

A scanner is no longer optional equipment for lawyers. Even if you have not gone paperless, courts, clients, and other lawyers will expect you to be able to scan things and distribute PDF files. You need a scanner in your office, at least, and probably on your own desk.

And not just any scanner. All-in-one systems are clumsy and inefficient, and flatbed scanners are too cumbersome for scanning multi-page documents. In a law office, you need a dedicated document scanner. Depending on how you practice, you may also want a portable scanner, or one that can scan 3-D objects like books or small physical exhibits.

Here are the ones you should consider.

Best Overall: Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500


If you are only going to own one scanner, it should be this one. The ScanSnap iX500 is compact, fast, ridiculously easy to use, and good-looking. Plus, it works over wi-fi and scans to your smartphone or tablet. It comes with a copy of Adobe Acrobat (for Windows), and … well, I just can’t say enough good things about it.

I’ve owned three ScanSnaps, the S500, S1500, and iX500, and I have been thrilled with all of them. You can’t go wrong with a ScanSnap iX500, with just one narrow exception …

  • Christian Denmon

    I have rolled with the scan snap since January 2010 when I started my practice. I have original scanners in practice. Incredible quality and performance. Didn’t know they a wifi model…..

  • static

    Great post. I was beginning to suffer from scan snap withdrawal as you hadn’t posted about scanners for, it seems like, days.

    • Sam Glover

      Weeks, even.

  • Art

    Check the negative reviews at Amazon before buying this scanner. No Twain support should be a deal breaker for most users. It is not a minor flaw.

    • Sam Glover

      I assume you are referring to the ScanSnap, but it’s not a flaw, and it’s not a dealbreaker for “most users.”

      It is almost certainly a dealbreaker for some users, but as I said, if you know you need TWAIN, don’t get it.

      • Richard Georges

        It’s a dealbreaker for those of us who use PaperPort for document management. And, the Neat Desktop scanner is a great scanner. I have 3 of them, and 2 of them have been going strong for over 3 years. The Neat software is useless and unnecessary; but, PaperPort, in its recent iterations, is a best in the business poor man’s doc management.

        • Sam Glover

          Right. You know you need TWAIN, so the ScanSnap won’t work. (You really should try the NeatConnect, though. It’s awesome.) Most solos and small firms don’t fall into that category.

  • Pam

    Agree completely about the ScanSnap. I’ve had the S510 model on my desk (I’m a paralegal) for several years. I cannot say enough about how well it performs, and I use numerous times every day.

  • Mark

    I bought the ScanSnap ix500 based on your recommendation when I opened my practice and it’s been virtually flawless the past seven months. On the extremely rare occasion when pages overlap (it’s happened twice, and only with mixed document types) it actually catches it automatically and warns you before continuing. Fast, reliable, and compact…thanks for steering me in the right direction on this one and on the HP 400 Laser Jet. Both are rock-solid.

  • Jonathan Kleiman

    Scansnap. No contest.

  • Chris Hill

    As one who is going as “paperless” as possible in my law practice, I’ve used the Scansnap s1500 (the prior version of the ix500) for almost 4 years and loved it. It is a key part of my document flow. I don’t have any issues with no Twain support given the ScanSnap’s Clio integration and my other doc management protocols.

    In short, I agree with Sam on this one.

  • dtremit

    Any chance you’ll be doing a review of the Epson DS-510 / DS-560 at some point? They appear to both have ultrasonic double feed detection, and the DS-560’s wireless features look quite appealing.

  • jameskatt

    The reason paper sticks together when you scan is moisture.

    If you live near the northern coast, then the air may be so moist that even with ultrasonic feed detection, you will forever be frustrated with scanning when using these vertically feeding scanners. Papers always stick together when moist, however mild that you can’t feel it.

    For old documents, I recommend storing them with dessicants to remove water from them before scanning them. I even store blank paper with dessicants so that they don’t stick together when scanned after a print job. And I take out paper from the printer that has stood all night, and store it in the cabinet with dessicant, replacing it with drier paper that had already been stored with dessicant.

    If you cannot reduce moisture in the paper, then there is nothing more satisfying than a scanner with a more horizontal paper feed that does the job quickly – such as the Canon imageFORMULA DR-6030C. A horizontal paper feed minimizes paper sticking at the feeder. At Simplex 80 ppm or Duplex 160 ipm, with a 100 page feeder capacity, The DR-6030C is superior and far more amazingly faster to the ones in this review. At 15.6 x 12.3 inches of deskspace taken, it essentially takes the desk space of a laptop when folded. Of course, at $2000 USED, these are quite expensive but worth it for years of blissful scanning.