Monday, April 7, 2014

Can the legal community go paperless?

1) From criminal prosecutions to the smallest of civil matters, evidence of all kinds is being accumulated, stored and disseminated in pdf, jpg or jpeg formats.
2) The providers of evidence are scanning and storing that evidence rather than incurring the expense of storing, copying and providing those documents to firms, agencies or corporations. Document repositories of millions of pages of paper are no longer necessary. Teams of lawyers, paralegals and investigators poring over these documents are becoming a thing of the past as document providers find it is more profitable to scan the documents they can and destroy what they don’t want to retain.
3) Courts are understaffed and are no longer equipped to process the massive volume of paper formally kept in paper files. Courts are increasingly suffering from having huge backlogs of pleadings, orders and other documents waiting to be physically placed in the paper files. These documents are unavailable to the public. Eventually, the local Courts will have no choice but to require all parties to submit all documents in pdf or an similar form. Call it the trickle down effect of PACER.
4) In the private sector, it is becoming increasingly evident that as the corporate world goes paperless, it will force the law firms it employs to adapt to this new reality. 
4) Finally, the demographic of the Judges, attorneys, paralegals, investigators and other staff has evolved to the point that spending hours shuffling papers is no longer a viable means of prosecuting or litigating a case.