Family Lawyer's paper addiction to paperless existence

Family Lawyer’s paper addiction to paperless existence

Grainne Fahy, partner and IAFL fellow and Head of Family Law at BLM law firm talks about her paper addiction, despite being in an evolving legaltech world, and how Covid-19 changed her to a paperless existence for the better.

I have a confession.

Despite being a fairly well technologically adapted, middle aged partner in a law firm, up until just under two years ago, I ran my files completely paper based.
I duly read emails, printed the emails and filed the emails. I had pleadings folders and correspondence folders for each client – some of whom took up whole filing cabinets they were so voluminous.

I had precedents and file reviews, all neatly filed, with online versions stored too, you know just in case; CVs from prospective candidates, departmental figures, forecasts… the list goes on and on. Paper and online, just in case.

I had court bundles, PD27A compliant of course. My trainee would spend hours at the printer; the machine getting hotter and hotter and the arm muscles growing with every industrial hole punch administered.

We lugged around huge wheelie cases to court, containing the bundles that may or may not see the harsh light of the court room, and then duly wheeled them home in the evening and back the next day; up and down stairs, on and off tubes and buses, in and out of taxis. We even bought a super-sized wheelie case to facilitate this madness.

Dropping the children off to school before court inevitably resulted in the “WHERE are YOU going?” from other parents, with their misplaced jealousy.
The last day of the hearing was always the worst because then you also had to lug the Judge’s and witness bundles too, which had hitherto been DX’d in, paginated and not less than two working days before the hearing. Sometimes, you could persuade your instructed counsel to get their clerks to DX them back to the office so the journey to chambers felt like a light relief. Bingo!

So when I moved to a “paper light” firm in 2019, I vowed to change my ways.

I could change. I would change. I had to change.

So along came my new “paper light” way of being. But the courts did not change; they still expected all of the paper, as much paper as you could get. I would go as far as to say that the courts hampered my progress! How would I ever succeed?

It went well enough, though I must admit that I still had the crutch of just some of the correspondence printed, you know the really important things that you needed to have easy and physical hard copy access to, because it’s just not the same on screen, is it?

And then it was.

Along came lockdown

Along came the first lockdown in March 2020 and all of a sudden thanks to COVID-19, we were all thrust into working remotely full time and finally I was able to address my paper addiction.

The technology worked. In fact, it was better after a few teething problems. Arguably my set up at home is now better than at the office or certainly as good as, bar the human contact. Court hearings from the comfort of your home office? Yes, please.

The Judges had to adapt and now the thought of a paper bundle of a scanned in bundle without a fully booked marked index or an in person FDA, gives me the shivers.

I hope we don’t go back to our old ways. It will save a fortune on storage for one thing.

And most of all, I am pleased to say, I am now cured of my paper addiction.

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