Are we lawyers, or are we not, too wedded to paper forms of communication when there are quicker, cheaper and more environmentally-friendly alternatives available?
As of now, this is not just a question to discuss over a pint (sorry, glass of wine, as the ladies move towards the majority) after hours, but the subject of research being undertaken by Dr Michael Fielding of the University of Edinburgh's Business School prior to reporting to the Society next March. You may even find yourself receiving a survey asking for your views and experiences.
Dr Fielding's mission appears to be to find out "why paper continues to define the profession, and the economic costs that result". So how far does it define us? A glance at my CA counterpart's desk next to mine reveals a few more trees' worth than I can muster. Not that my wife would tell you I don't hoard it a bit.
And I'm quite sure that we could cut down if we really tried. The Journal has run a few features on the possibilities (try searching for "paperless office" and similar terms), and a number of firms from sole practitioner up to top 10 have shown you can run pretty well everything through digital files. Within the next decade, legal aid, the courts and even Registers of Scotland may have gone entirely digital.
But it will be good to have some proper findings on whether as a breed we're different, and if so, whether it's genetic or just habit.
In writing this I'm conscious of the irony of blogging about continued use of paper – if it's true, then hardly anyone will be reading. But the number of comments posted to the Journal Online is picking up, and we're certainly getting increasingly thoughtful reponses. So it would be good to have a few views on when and why you use paper, or what lawyers generally could do to cut down on it. Via your computer of course.