Going Green as a Law Office

When I was attending Stetson University College of Law I remember one of my professors used to say "Paper’s cheap and time is short!"  He said it a lot so it has kind of stayed with me over the years.  He encouraged us to only write on one side of the page in our notebooks and to basically use as much paper as possible.  There was also a joke in lawschool about the longer exam essay you wrote, the better grade you’d get.  Needless to say, law school didn’t do a lot to encourage us to conserve paper.

But as time goes on, I find these sentiments staying with me. In an age of global warming and depleted rain forrests, I feel like as a lawyer, I do need to try to conserve paper if and when I can.  Some of the things we’ve done include:

1.  Going paperless – most of our files are on the computer now.  We use a case management software program called Client Profiles and it is a completely awesome system.  Technology continues to amaze me and what we are doing now – we couldn’t even dream of when I became a lawyer just 13 years ago, its truly awesome.  Our office has a server and a back up server so that we have less chance of losing our system.  This means less paper and it also means that in the event of a major hurricane we can keep working – even remotely from another state – so that even if our whole office building was wiped out we’d have all of our files in the system which I could access by using a program called gotomypc or pcanywhere.  So going paperless has not only meant less paper for us, it also means we’re more prepared for a natural disaster. 

2. We use recycled paper when we can and we reuse paper when we can.  This is sometimes difficult since we have to keep all of our client’s information confidential and safe so we have to balance our desire to be "green" with out obligation to protect our client’s confidentiality and privacy (the client’s confidentiality and privacy has to win this fight every time).

3. I use electronic communication when I can – inter-office phoneslips and internet emails.  I feel for the most part these communications are safe, however, if something is particularly sensitive I will still opt for regular mail or a phone call or meeting.  But a lot of times using email is a quick and easy way to communicate.  I’ve even been able to represent clients all over the state of Florida thanks in large part to the internet.

We are continuing to become "Green."  I think it is a process and every little bit helps. 

As a side note, my father, Bob Fenderson, was a tree farmer in Maine.  He was even awarded the "Outstanding Tree Farmer Award" in 1994 from the Maine Tree Farm Program.  I grew up in a house where we recycled everything – from cans to paper; we had a compost pile; and we grew trees.   Hopefully that will counterbalance all the paper we use here in the office. 

If you have any tips about how we can become a "greener" office, I would love to hear from you.

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