Not Wired to go Paperless?

Is it possible we’re not wired to run a paperless law office?

There is no doubt that digital archiving is the way to go.  Done right, scanning closed client files is both convenient and cost effective.  But does it automatically follow that lawyers should adopt a completely paperless work flow for active files?

Goldy has a longer attention span than you

We already know that the lowly goldfish has a longer attention span than humans thanks to our increasingly digital lifestyle.  What about processing data?  Is our ability to absorb and retain information equivalent in the digital and paper worlds?  What does the science say?

This is your brain on paper [and it works better]

Evidence suggests that absorption, understanding, and retention suffer when we attempt to digest information digitally:

Consider this excerpt from Ferris Jabr, The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus ScreensScientific American [2013].

Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people’s attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.

If you are still with me: what does this mean for you and your law practice?

If you’ve gone completely paperless – accessing, reading, and digesting information digitally – and feel you are getting good results, why not continue?  You likely made some adaptations along the way that were perfectly natural and work well for you.  Keep up the good work!

For everyone else, the most optimal approach seems to be the following:

  1. Go paperless at the end of a file’s life cycle.  Scan your file.  Return original client documents.  Shred the paper file OR provide it to the client.  Only keep paper if required.  For a refresher on that subject, review our File Retention & Destruction Guidelines, available on the PLF website.
  2. During the course of a case, use paper whenever it works best for you: notes, correspondence, paper-based discovery, materials received from the client.
  3. Strive to keep information that you create or receive digitally in digital form (pleading documents, memos, emails).
  4. Whenever you need to print digital information for review and markup, don’t hesitate to do so.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]

 

Free Shred Day – Coming Soon to a City Near You?

We hope so!

The Professional Liability Fund has held several successful shred events at the OSB Center, most recently on May 17:

678 bankers boxes shredded

box

Stretching the equivalent of 24 school buses parked end-to-end

bus1bus2bus3

Weighing as much as 2 full-grown hippos with 26 stout offspring

h2

baby h

We are working with Recall, our document storage and destruction provider, to host future shred events in:

  • Salem
  • Bend
  • Eugene
  • Medford
  • Newport or Tillamook
  • La Grande
  • Pendleton

Stay tuned!

 

10 Year Paper Retention Requirement – Oregon eCourt Week

If you are a paperless practitioner who has embraced Oregon eCourt with open arms, beware. eCourt filers are required by rule to retain certain documents in their original paper form.  UTCR 21.120, effective May 1, 2014, provides:

“(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, if a filer electronically files an image of a document that contains the original signature of a person other than the filer, the filer must retain the document in its original paper form for 10 years.

(2) On reasonable notice, the filer must provide a paper copy of the original for inspection by another party, the clerk, or the court.”

See Chief Justice Order 14-012 dated March 31, 2014 adopting out-of-cycle amendments to the Uniform Trial Court Rules.

“Filer” means a person registered with the electronic filing system who submits a document for filing with the court.” UTCR 21.010(6).

Other Statutes and Rules May Require Retention of Original Paper Documents

Paperless practitioners should take note of other statutes or rules that require retention of original paper documents. Examples include the Affidavit of Custodian executed when a settlement agreement is reached on behalf of a minor (ORS 126.725(2)) and certain documents filed in US Bankruptcy Court (see Oregon Local Bankruptcy Court Rule 5005-4(e)). For more information, consult the PLF practice aids, File Retention and Destruction and Checklist for Scanning Client Files, available on the PLF Web site.

This is not an exhaustive list. Conduct your own appropriate legal research to identify other instances where original paper documents must (or should) be retained.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

Still Pondering Paperless?

In my continuing series of top tweets from the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW, today I am offering 10 thoughts to chew on if you are pondering going paperless.  (Including bonus tips from me!)

  • And it saves trees! RT @Westlaw: Benefits of going paperless: increased revenue and better client service. @Westlaw RT @ESIPhones
  • 1st Q. to ask: Is your “paperless plan” in line with your record retention plan and retention requirements? @Westlaw
  • Want to go paperless? Reduce the # of printers, replace with scanners. @Westlaw
  • Get a ScanSnap ix1500. Make it easy to go #paperless #abatechshow per Steve Best. @david_bilinsky
  • PDF is a cornerstone to the #paperless practice per Steve Best. @david_bilinsky
  • Get a DMS (doc mgmt system) to go #paperless. Handles email + attachments rather than rolling your own system. @david_bilinsky
  • If you came to my #ABATECHSHOW session on “PDF Enlightenment” & want the 1 page PDF cheat sheet, click this link. @pdflawyer
  • For checklists, white papers, and other resources on going paperless, visit the PLF Web site.
  • For CLEs on paper reduction, document management, the paperless office, and PDFing: A Lawyers Guide to Adobe Acrobat, visit the PLF Web site.
  • For an overview of the issues involving in going paperless, see my In Brief article, “Is It Time to Go Paper Less” on the PLF Web site.  Also see Greening Your Law Practice.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

Free Shred Day a Resounding Success

The Professional Liability Fund held its first ever “come one/come all” free shredding recycle binevent  at the Oregon State Bar Center on Saturday,
June 15. Invitations were extended to all Oregon lawyers practicing in Clackamas and Washington county:

  • Participants brought 447 containers of client files in everything imaginable – produce boxes, large bags, standard bankers boxes, and oversize bankers boxes.
  • Recall filled 85 bins and shredded all files on-site.
  • If stored in standard containers, the material would occupy 595 letter/legal size bankers boxes.
  • By weight, 14,875 pounds of client files were destroyed.

To learn about future shred events, follow the Professional Liability Fund on LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis (2013)