Are paper documents outdated?

I recently started watching the “Lincoln Lawyer” on Netflix. As with most series/movies involving lawyers and law firms, I’m always a bit shocked at the old-fashioned paper documents. It seems that important or incriminating evidence always exists in paper. This even happens when people need to sign documents in the show, or retrieve a file.

What’s odd about this is almost all documents only exist electronically. From the time someone creates a document and uses it, it remains electronic. This is especially true since Covid started. Although e-signatures and digital signatures have been around for over 10 years, the pandemic expedited their usage. Since many businesses had to operate remotely, with employees working from home, acquiring signatures electronically became the norm.

The Netflix “Lincoln Lawyer” series is based on a series of novels by Michael Connelly, first published in 2005. If I consider that, it would make sense reading it that transactions and business would happen with paper. I wouldn’t expect to read anything about smartphones or the pandemic. However, the Netflix series is more modern. The series modifies certain aspects to match the year of creation, 2022. People use smartphones. The lawyers review some discovery documents, such as emails, electronically, even though in one episode they received 80 boxes of physical documents.

However, in the courtroom, the lawyers present evidence in both formats, electronic and physical (paper or other objects). Photos remain digital. Everything else is in a physical format. Witnesses read highlighted sections from pieces of paper, on request. Wouldn’t the new “norm” be to hand someone a tablet to read? Not only is this more accessible because it allows the size to be adjusted, it’s likely the document only existed electronically until it was printed out for a witness to read.

I wonder for the new generation watching these shows, or working in an office for the first time, if these practices already seem outdated. They seem outdated to me and I grew up paper, cassette tapes, and rotary dial. And yet, in a weird kind of way, they also seem perfectly normal.

1 comment for “Are paper documents outdated?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *