Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Paperless Defense Practice

A word from a Texas prosecutor on going paperless in your office:


Paperless systems are becoming more and more prevalent. I had an attorney tell me the other day he “didn’t do email.” What? Is that even possible nowadays? Probably, but how far are you falling behind in technological advances? A whole heckuva lot. The same can be said of those still using paper to operate their daily course of business.

Paperless is cheaper, faster, and much easier than managing “hard copy.” Need to send a note to a client? Why not email it? Need to communicate a counter-offer with the prosecutor? Don’t call. Shoot him an electronic fax. Ooh, what about needing to get copies of discovery, say medical records? Remember paying .25 a page? Forget that! Have the D.A.’s office copy them to your thumb drive.
Many state offices are switching to paperless systems where they operate without hard files and, instead, access all information via their computer systems. Discovery, motions, judgments, etc. are being entered into their system from either email or scanning of the documents. Ultimately, prosecutors are not relying on paper anymore. Why should you? After all, you have to pay for your paper, the prosecutors get their from the tax payers.

As technology continues to replace the old, primitive way of our criminal justice system, you will start to see more and more attorneys become dependent on their laptops (or even electronic devices like the iPad or Kindle – yes, I’ve already seen it.) Granted, for the immediate, foreseeable future, there will still be some things for which we must use paper (e.g. anything we file with the court), but the bulk of the paper currently being used in attorney’s office is becoming unnecessary.

Some argue it’s too expensive to get up to date on these advances, but I would urge the opposite. Paper isn’t exactly cheap. Computers and other electronics have become much more affordable. And besides, do you really want to look like that old attorney sitting behind his typewriter pecking away on his motions? Or do you want to be the attorney who’s up to speed not only on the law, but the society in which we live?


I like the prosecutor's appeal to "green-up" the defense practice and I agree with him in theory.  I also like the idea of cutting costs where possible.  But I have to say, I really like to read things on paper.  I am better able to spot errors and make notes when I have a hard copy of a document.  Perhaps I'm behind in the times a bit?