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Our U.S business conducted a survey recently which found that lawyer’s paperwork undermines billing efficiency. The full report can be read in The Wall Street Journal. The so called “efficiency gap” (the space between lawyers who bill for nearly all the hours they work and those who spend up to 60% of their time on non-billable tasks) is being filled with paperwork in many cases. If this is true of the UK (which I imagine it is) then last week’s comments by Gloster J in Berezovsky V Abramovich will have caught the attention of many litigators.
Paper-logged lawyers watching the climax of the Berezovsky v Abramovich battle will have noticed that Gloster J complimented the use of electronic documentation, stating that is was 'highly organised and easily accessible'. The comments of the judge could herald a new era in the way trials are run, especially large scale international proceedings, with a move towards a paperless courts.
With the Jackson costs reforms coming into play next April and, of course, the focus on costs savings for law firms, this is a timely judgment showing that the courts can move away from old school paper-heavy court room battles. If the courts can embrace more efficient electronic formats, then the trial process can start at a much early stage and reduce the costs associated with disclosure in document-heavy litigation. The infamous trial date was a big day for Abramovich, but it also signaled yet more change for the way lawyers will work in the future.
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