In his review of The Myth of the Paperless Office, Abigail J. Sellen and Richard H. R. Harper, MIT Press 2001 (see http://www.techsoc.com/paperless.htm), Kirk McElhearn writes:
“The authors’ conclusion to the ‘problem’ of paper is mostly common-sense: ‘paper will continue to occupy an important place in office life but will increasingly be used in conjunction with an array of electronic tools.’ They go on to say, ‘The paperless office is a myth not because people fail to achieve their goals, but because they know too well that their goals cannot be achieved without paper.’ Don’t throw away those books yet—the future won’t be that different after all.”
For lawyers, “going paperless” will not happen until the state courts require e-filing, permit lawyers to store closed files in digital format, and allow the destruction of non-essential paper when a matter is closed. Few state bar organizations have issued definitive rulings to guide law firm managers on these issues. We have a distance to travel before we reach that goal. But don’t let this fact discourage you from using paperless case management software. It is worth the effort.
A critical factor in managing “paperless” technology is getting on the same page with the rest of your firm or practice group about the protocols to be used in receiving, distributing, and “efiling” “documents.” If you have one or more professionals and/or staff persons who insist on doing it “their way,” your firm’s IT Manager and Managing Attorney will not be able to manage the flow of paper in your office in the most effective manner, and the chances that paper and digital “documents” become lost or misplaced will increase exponentially.
Note: Find out more about Kirk McElhearn – a freelance writer specializing in Macs, the iPod, iTunes, digital music and more – at his website: http://www.mcelhearn.com/.
David W. Zizik
Chair, Law Practice Management Committee
Zizik, Powers, O’Connell, Spaulding & Lamontagne, P.C.
690 Canton Street, Suite 306, Westwood, MA 02090