Earth Day seems to be a good time to think about cutting waste. One easy solution is to use less paper. The following is a quote from the ABA page on Climate Change:
“Law offices tend to be paper-intensive, and the production and disposal of paper consumes substantial amounts of energy and generates significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions. One large Washington, DC. law firm buys about 100,000 sheets of copying and printing paper per attorney per year, which is almost one page per minute of attorney billable time, and which amounts to a half-ton of paper per year. The life-cycle of a ton of paper, from production to disposal in a landfill, results in the generation of about 11 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.”
There is an understandable reaction for trial teams to say, “This case is important to the client and the lawyers. There isn’t time to worry about sustainable approaches, especially if doing so would in any way compromise our ability to litigate this case effectively.”
Fair enough, but inevitably this leads to some wasteful decisions that do not improve the level of performance for the trial team. Instead, it will force us all to need some extra SPF 30.
Because winning is important, really important, we think about reducing paper as married to improving performance. Less paper is a natural by-product of efficiency. Instead of looking at paper reduction as a end within itself, we’re seeing that by working simpler and faster, we automatically use less paper. Some of these things include:
Better Performing Databases
Databases that are slow to boot, slow to search, and cumbersome to use, lead to printing. When it’s quicker to page through paper than electronically review, lawyers feel compelled to review in paper. We see conference rooms stacked to the ceiling on a regular basis. When “digging through the boxes” is the mode of operation, you can be sure trees have been harmed.
Secured Electronic Delivery
We used to print hundreds of slides to send as proofs, put them in a plastic binder, wrap them with packaging material, and ship them in an overnight box to be sent via jet fuel. Now we post a PDF to a secured website, where lawyers can access all of the work produced over a browser on their Blackberry.
Electronic Deposition Designations
Throw away the highlighters! The days of manually highlighting a deposition transcript are over. Sad news for the color copying companies who generate three or four sets of every page of the transcript — designation or not. Our web products are a simpler and faster way to deal with an incredibly inefficient and paper intensive process.
Electronic Exhibit Stamping
Stamping exhibits electronically reduces the need for an original and copy set of the exhibits. Paper sets for archival purposes (i.e. “originals”) cannot be used by polar bears to float on when their ice caps have melted.
Tagging Not Binders
Ah the white binder with the index. It’s the security blanket for the trial partner. Tagging documents electronically allows for quick generation of an updated set of documents, without needing to replicate multiple binder sets for all lawyers involved. Faster and more current, it’s also much easier to carry a Blackberry or a laptop on a plane than a gigantic set of binders. Your back and shoulders will thank you.
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