Printing tips, tricks, and hacks for legal professionals

Not all courts have moved to electronic court filing and even those which have keep some documents exempt. Between court files and internal paperwork, an awful lot gets printed in any given law office.

If you’re not ready to make the move to a paperless law office, there are several options for you to up your printing game and become savvier in the ways of putting computerized ink to paper.

Ways to avoid printing

Printing is costly and inconvenient, creates unnecessary clutter, and is time-consuming to keep track of. Here are some tips to help you stop printing and instead save, organize, and share documents digitally:

Print to PDF

Anything you can print on paper can instead be printed to a PDF file. To do so, you’ll select the save as PDF in your word processor, which will produce a file that you can store in services like Evernote or Dropbox, or your firm’s cloud database.

Bookmark web pages

If your first move is to print a webpage for review later, instead consider bookmarking it for reference. There are even ways that bookmarks can be synced across all your devices, browsers, and systems.

Send faxes over the web

Some businesses (especially law firms) still demand that documents be faxed. But instead of printing and then faxing documents the traditional way, you can get rid of your fax machine by using a service like HelloFax to send faxes electronically. Even if the recipient needs a physical copy, the document can stay digital on your end.

Store your documents electronically

Quit printing, and instead store your documents electronically. Easier said than done? There are a number of ways to painlessly switch from paper files to digital ones, and keep everything organized and accessible in the process.

Use eSignatures

Many legal professionals still think that if they need a signature on a document, they need to print it first, and then chase down the signature. But click-to-sign electronic signatures are just as legal as their wet counterparts, and often much more convenient, fast, and secure.

When you really have to print

There are going to be times when even a mostly paperless office will have to print a document. These printing tips will help your jobs go as smoothly as possible, even if they are few and far between:

Prevent inkjet printer clogs

Inkjet printers are more likely to clog in low humidity areas, so if you live in Phoenix, Las Vegas, or Salt Lake City where humidity levels sometimes drop as low as 10 to 15 percent, you might consider putting a humidifier in the room where you keep your printer and consider printing a page or two every few days, whether you need to or not.

Get rid of bloatware

Printers, especially the all-in-one variety, install software that you won’t likely use and do not want. To minimize unnecessary software, check for a Custom option when you install your printer, rather than choosing the Recommended option, and then manually choose the software you want to install. Or download a minimal installation file from the manufacturer’s website and skip the CD.

Print in black only

Most legal documents are in black and white (literally), so before you get an error message that your printer can’t print because it’s out of another ink color, check for an option allowing you to print in black only. If your printer’s driver doesn’t give you this option, make sure to keep a supply of ink cartridges on hand.

Use the right paper setting

Different types of paper require different amounts of ink and different proportions of ink colors to get the right results. Although some printers will recognize the paper type automatically, such features do not always work properly. Setting the paper type will tell the print driver which color tables to use so that you will get the document you are expecting for the paper you’re actually using.

Avoid cheap copy paper

The paper on which you print makes a difference in how your final document will look, and whiter, brighter paper will take text and line graphics crisper and colors more vibrant. For inkjet printers, the wrong paper will absorb too much ink and potentially allow it to bleed where you don’t want it.

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Do you know of other ways to streamline the printing process, or avoid it altogether? Tell us about them in the comments!

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About the Author

Jan Hill is a paralegal and a freelance writer who specializes in law and legal technology topics.

2 Comments

  1. Cortland L Kirkeby Reply

    Thank you for your excellent article. You raise many good points and remind all of us to review non-printing options regularly.

    Another key advantage to PDF’s over hard copies is the ability to blow up complex passages written in micro-print so they can be reviewed more thoroughly. “The large print giveth and the small print taketh away” is a wise old saying worth remembering.

    Thanks again.

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