Will Paperless Law Firms Be the Norm in 2020?


Most Surveyed Am Law 200 Attorneys Believe So

With the high volume of paperwork often involved in the legal process, it can be hard to imagine paperless law firms in just five years. But in a recent survey of attorneys conducted by Ari Kaplan Advisors and kCura, an e-discovery provider, the majority of participants believe paperless law firms will be the norm by 2020.

Ari Kaplan Advisors conducted the survey by interviewing 25 partners responsible for e-discovery at Am Law 200 firms, as well as six directors of litigation support at similar-sized firms. Here are some of the most notable findings:

• 67 percent of respondents believe paperless law firms will be the norm by 2020
• 75 percent believe using mobile devices in the courtroom will become the norm, while 17 percent believe it is already the norm
• 44 percent use mobile applications for e-discovery
• 60 percent say efficiency is one of the most exciting aspects of mobile technology
• All participants rated mobile access as an essential part of their job

Some respondents also remarked that the shifting leadership generation is contributing greatly to the rapid transition from paper to electronic. Ari Kaplan, founder of Ari Kaplan Advisors and the primary interviewer, concluded that these findings mean the traditional law firm office space and means of communication are likely to change significantly within the next few years.

The survey results were discussed between Kaplan; Mike Quartararo, litigation support director at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP; and Mary Novacheck, partner at Bowman & Brooke, during a webinar on November 12. While they agreed that the day-to-day files attorneys typically work with in the office will be mostly virtual by 2020, Quartararo and Novacheck do not believe paper will ever go away completely in law firms, since physical files are still legally required in so many areas of law. They both noted that they don’t see that changing anytime soon. The group also discussed how security is the number one concern regarding the increasing amount of work done on mobile devices. Furthermore, they predicted the electronic shift will expedite the reduction of charge-for-print practices.