Law firms in the 60’s and 70’s were equipped with typewriters and roll after roll of carbon paper. They were also decorated with textbooks, tomes, and seemingly endless filing cabinets filled with important documents. Organizing these “paper” offices took manpower and time. Finding important documents and keeping track of them or updating them took even more manpower and time. Thankfully, several inventions in the 1970’s and innovations in the 1980’s brought the legal profession out of the Paper Office Age.
- The handheld mobile phone (1973)
- The portable personal computer (1983)
- The commercial internet (1995)
The handheld mobile phone gave lawyers the ability to contact clients from almost anywhere in the world. Then, the portable personal computer gave lawyers the ability to store important documents in a compact manner and transport them easily while on the road or in the air. Later, the commercial internet allowed the public to have access to the internet, which gave lawyers the ability to reach local, national, and even international clients.
Now, paper offices have all but vanished within the legal profession. Although some argued that tradition should be kept, those who stuck to tradition were left behind — doomed to yellow and age with the paper that was also left behind in the paper office.
Step One: Develop an Online Presence
One of the reasons behind the excessive use of paper is correspondence. Build a website where your clients can call and email you. Providing an online form for a free case evaluation will also help you to build a paperless office.
In addition, this will help you to develop an online presence, which in turn helps to build confidence and trust in your law office and increases business for your law firm.
Finally, developing an online presence in this manner will help get rid of the piles of paper that can clutter your desk and office.
Step Two: Get to Know Google
You should also consider utilizing online sharing, which will eliminate excessive use of the printing and fax machine in your office. Online sharing is also faster and more efficient.
For example, Google Docs and other online sharing systems allow you to create, share, and send a variety of files in a variety of formats: powerpoints and spreadsheets just to name a few.
Finally, even judges and arbitrators have begun to utilize online sharing to review documents– and not just to save paper but to save time. Conducting a word search is much easier on a computer than in a thick stack of papers.
Step Three: Simplify with Skype
You can also consider utilizing online communication, which will eliminate unwanted mail and phone books.
In addition, Skype will help to simplify your law office. You can have interviews, meetings, and video conferences with Skype.
Finally, Skype allows you to connect with anyone anywhere in the world at any time. Its advantages make going paperless a good idea.
However, whether or not this movement to the paperless office is about going green or just saving time and money remains to be seen. Each lawyer’s office is unique and special, and each lawyer will have his or her reasons for going paperless.
Jason McMinn specializes in personal injury law at the McMinn Law Firm in Austin, Texas. McMinn has joined the paperless office movement, and he offers his clients a paperless, online case evaluation form.