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Moving from file carts to paper(less)

Moving from file carts to paper(less)

I attended a solo firm conference a few years ago in Toronto and had one of those eureka moments.

Donna Neff was presenting on paperless offices and her experiences. She took out a tablet from her knapsack and declared that she practiced remotely from this computer while travelling through South America.

At this point in my practice I was still having filing carts sitting by my office desk with piles of files to review. I would review them send the clerk a hand written memo with instruction and the task requested would be completed a few days later. Those file carts were chaining me to my desk and the office.

What if I could use the tablet computer to have the documents emailed to me where ever I was –court, home, on the boat, or even in South America like Donna? I could then review, edit and sign the documents right on the computer screen? I could simply email the revised document back to my clerk. Eureka! I would no longer have to wade through the file cart. I would no longer be chained to my desk. The turn around time for document editing and completion could be instant along with my instructions to my clerk.

I took the plunge, got a tablet and networked it to our office servers. With an internet stick I was freed from relying on wifi hot spots and could work completely remotely. This was a fundamental transition for my firm.

We now have empty file carts sitting around our office and our clients prefer to work with us electronically as they can now receive almost instantaneous feedback and service.

I now have the choice, if I am not in court or meeting with clients, to work remotely and have made it a firm policy to close early on Fridays to help promote a work life balance for our lawyers and staff. This in turn has been a boost to office moral and productivity. If a crisis occurs on a Friday we have an answering service that can re direct calls as necessary.

I strongly recommend the move for lawyers considering making their practices paper(less). You will no longer be chained to your desks and file carts, you can service your clients more efficiently and it will free up your time to do other things, like have a life outside of the office. Good Luck.

Just recently I have switched from using a PC tablet to the iPad but this transition will be the topic for another article.

This article first appeared on May 20, 2011 at

Technology, Work/Life Balance


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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.