How Legal Technology Will Make Law Firms More Sustainable
Many industries are making efforts to become more sustainable. In this article, we'll discuss how legal technology can do the same for law firms.
Sustainability and the legal industry are two terms many may think are mutually exclusive, and when you see a lawyer walk down the street with a trolley full of paper, it’s not hard to see why. However, advancements in technology have made the move into being more sustainable possible for law firms. In this article, we’ll outline the ways that legal tech will bring businesses into the digital age and also also make them sustainable for years to come.
1. Reducing the need to use paper
This may be the most obvious benefit of using legal technology, but that’s because it’s the most important one. Millions and millions of tonnes of paper is used every year by law firms, with 80% of Australian law firms still using paper on a daily basis. However, most legal documents can be safely stored using cloud technology. There are multiple platforms where client files, documents and other information can be securely stored and accessed at any time. Reducing the amount of paper you use is better for the environment – and we all know that there isn’t an endless supply of trees for us to get our paper from. Put simply, less paper = more sustainable.
After you’ve made the transition to storing most of your firm’s information online, you may still feel the need to use paper for court appearances and conferences. However, any information on paper can be accessed with the same ease on an iPad or other tablet device. In fact, many lawyers now use tablets to refer to pleadings when they’re at hearings. Having these tablets also prevents the anxious rummaging that occurs in front of the Judge when you have hundreds of pieces of paper lying around.
2. Reducing energy usage
If you make the transition to storing all of your documents online and using tech-savvy devices to access them anywhere, anytime, you may find that you no longer need to use a printer. Multi-purpose printers which print, scan, and copy hundreds of documents everyday not only use up a huge number of plastic ink cartridges, but also use up a lot of power. If you stop using a printer you will find that your energy usage is significantly lower, and in turn, that you have a lower power bill.
3. Allowing for increased outsourcing
One of the many innovations of legal tech is that so much legal work can be outsourced. Where firms used to spend thousands of dollars and use even more energy, they can now enlist an external business to produce these briefs. This also works when holding conferences where software can negate the need to meet in person. Outsourcing where you can reduces energy, transport and firm costs, but also allows you spend more time doing what you do best – the law. Legal technology also provides opportunities for your firm to market itself online through mediums such as online lawyer marketplaces, and who doesn’t enjoy some free advertising?
4. Greater flexibility in the workplace
Legal technology means that lawyers and other employees can access files and other information at any time and any place. Subsequently, this means that your firm can have more flexible working arrangements, such as working from home. Having flexible working arrangements for your employees also means that you will have happier employees, and that in turn will make your firm more productive.
Although the legal industry has been slow to cotton-on to legal technology and all the possibilities that come with it, sustainability and technology go hand in hand. If you want to drive your firm towards an ethical and sustainable future, legal technology is the way to do it.
Jackie is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is a solicitor in NSW. She's interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.