In Defense Of Paper | Above the Law

‘The Paper Approach’ to discovery: not good.

While engineering has opened the door for a entire new manner of litigating, I continue being a agency supporter of all items paper. This will come from seeking out distinct solutions of processing facts and always returning to the dependable authentic — printing out and marking up by hand the documents I am functioning on.

Innovations in engineering have completed wonderful items for the exercise of regulation, and for litigators in distinct. Access to caselaw and secondary resources by means of analysis databases like Westlaw or Lexis not only would make our operate extra economical, but will allow regulation companies of all designs and measurements (not to mention pro se functions) to help their legal arguments with the exact sources and compete on a extra stage taking part in discipline. Remote obtain and e mail will allow us to equilibrium our operate and family obligations (if one particular has ample self-discipline to phase away from her gadgets) in a way that was not possible not so long in the past. The use of digital reveals, video clips, and slideshows in courtroom permits litigators to existing their circumstances to juries in a streamlined and conveniently recognized manner, in a way that paper demonstratives hardly ever could. And this is only a little choice.

But none of these developments transform how an personal attorney’s intellect procedures facts and focuses his or her arguments. For several, it is productive to evaluation an adversary’s quick or letter on a computer system or pill screen, but for other people — like me — there is one thing important about keeping, examining, and marking-up a physical duplicate of the doc.  The exact goes for argument outlines and documents to be made use of in courtroom.

Perhaps my inclination toward paper is due to the fact I drop someplace in involving all those who grew up with a smartphone or pill in their hands, and all those who relied on landlines and printed texts. I made use of (and speedily arrived to count on) a cell mobile phone and notebook in higher education, but can however recall publishing papers ready on a typewriter with guides from the library.

While I cannot picture likely again to the days ahead of in the vicinity of constant connection, I am also, unapologetically, a paper individual (in fact, quite a few of my colleagues will be the first to remark on how I almost surely go by means of extra paper than most agency staff members blended). This is inspite of the reality that my agency is specifically highly developed in phrases of how we use engineering to much better serve our customers.

While I surely consider benefit of this engineering, I also know that, when processing an adversary’s arguments or making ready my very own, it is important for me to go by means of the physical papers with a pen and highlighter and to map out my views and system by hand. The exact goes for enhancing my operate or that of a colleague. I have realized that I only want the tangible act to most effective approach the facts ahead of me and to most effective signify the interests of my customers.

Now, this is surely not the proper thing for everybody. I generally see one particular of my colleagues making ready for an argument solely on a pill, by means of which he has obtain to the total circumstance file, e-mails, and documents alike. This will allow him to be extremely economical and cellular, though accomplishing outstanding final results for his customers. But I know that this only does not operate for me.

Technological innovation and the calls for of one’s work may well transform what this indicates as time proceeds, so it is also important to be all set to adapt (even I am now thinking about tests out utilizing a stylus to compose specifically on a pill to get ready for a for a longer time commute). But, like most of the logistical features of our work, the most important consideration is to decide what works most effective for you and your customers, and proceed accordingly.

So, until finally I learn a much better technique, figuring out myself and how I approach facts, I continue being a staunch supporter of paper.

Jillian L McNeilJillian L. McNeil is an attorney at Balestriere Fariello who represents customers in trials, arbitrations, appeals, and in consultation on transactions. She focuses on complex professional litigation, including company disputes ahead of federal and point out courts in issues involving contract disputes, misappropriation of trade secrets and techniques and proprietary facts, tortious interference with contractual relations, unfair trade techniques, and defamation. Jillian also has represented plaintiffs and defendants in False Statements Act and Dodd-Frank Act litigation in courts around the Nation. You can reach her at

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