How to Print Without Shame

The paperless-office religion probably makes you uncomfortable. The preacher says kill the paper, printing is a sin. Don’t fret. Here is why you should not be ashamed to print.

I write this for lawyers, and I am not talking about mandatory printing. Courts are more likely to go extinct when blockchains end commercial disputes and self-driving cars eliminate motor vehicle accidents than to go completely electronic. (But courts hearing criminal and constitutional cases will be with us forever it seems.)

I am also not criticizing paperless. I am a huge fan. I am sure you know why paperless is so good that it created a religious following: 1) access from anywhere; 2) search instantly; 3) guarantee against loss; 4) delegate access; 5) convert to paper quickly.

But you should still print in one and only one case. When you read and cross-reference many documents at the same time, paper is like a cheap, hi-res, disposable, and instant iPad. You can have as many screens as you want, you can annotate, and you can quickly switch screens. Just to be clear, when I say screens here, I am talking about sheets of paper.

So you can print to create these disposable screens out of paper—but only on one condition. You must commit the product of your reading and cross-referencing to some electronic medium at the end and shred the paper. Don’t forget to recycle. ✌️

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