The practice of law, even a law school eduction, uses an extreme amount of paper. Recently, I stood at the multifunction machine in my former office and realized that on that day alone I had loaded 7 reams of paper. Seven. Three Thousand Five Hundred sheets. And that was just what I had loaded into the machine; it is unclear how many other people loaded paper that day. The drawers were empty at the end of the day.
Paper brings with it a number of disadvantages: the expense of paper, ink, and file storage; delays associated with finding and filing documents; and various problems with misfiling, versioning, and poor organization.
Over the past decade I have become increasingly shocked at the amount of paper used in the industry, which results in an enormous amount of waste and dependency on physical storage space.
The effort to go paperless — or at least to use less paper — offers a number of potential benefits:
- Reduced costs and labor
- Inexpensive and easily searchable document storage
- Improved client communication and service
In my practice I am striving to reduce the dependence on paper and physical storage space and I intend to operate a paperless-as-possible practice. I have chosen a e-fax number so that all faxes will go directly to my email and then can be saved to the client file rather than printed and eventually shredded.
It is unavoidable that certain formalities must be followed with estate planning documents and original documents must be printed, signed, and stored; however, I will no longer be printing contracts, emails, inspection reports, title reports, or appraisals, rather examining the same entirely on screen for real estate transactions. I estimate that will lead to a reduction of approximately 300-500 sheets of paper per client in real estate transactions, 200 sheets for estate planning clients, and 500-700 sheets for estate probate/administration. Additionally, I will be emailing invoices as much as possible and will have an option to pay online to further reduce the use of paper.
For my clients who do not use email or prefer paper correspondence I will alway accommodate that need or preference.
The consumption of paper is unavoidable, but I will be striving to do my part to reduce my usage and increase efficiency.