6 Legal Technologies That Should Be Obsolete


Legal innovation is a popular topic this month, but it’s worth noting that most law offices are still weighed down by obsolete technology — or technology that ought to be obsolete, at least. Sure, we don’t use quills or mimeographs anymore, but there is a pretty good chance you still have a fax machine taking up space in your office.

Here are 5 legal technologies you can — and should — get rid of, and what to use instead.

Featured image: “Engraving of dodo surrounded by parrots and ducks” from Shutterstock.


Still have a copier? Maybe it’s time you went paperless. Being able to scan documents and then print them when you need them is not cutting-edge technology. I went paperless 10 years ago, and I know lawyers who have been paperless longer than that. Whether or not you continue to maintain paper files after you buy a document scanner, scanning and printing is cheaper and more efficient than copying.

Get a good document scanner and a fast laser printer, and you will never need a copier again.

Featured image: “Businesswoman having trouble with copy machine” from Shutterstock.

Fax Machines

Fax machines are still a mainstay in most law offices, even though they are costly, inconvenient, and low-resolution. With email, there are almost no legitimate reasons why you still need a fax machine.

But if you just cannot bear to let go of fax capability (or you have to have it, for one reason or another), you could just get an e-fax service instead, for a fraction of the cost and a whole lot more convenience.

Featured image: “The hand presses the fax button” from Shutterstock.


Any law firm more than 5 years old probably has at least one typewriter in the office, “just in case.” In case what? Well, occasionally you need to fill out pre-printed forms, and it would be unprofessional to do it by hand. A typewriter will do the trick.

Or, you could just scan the document (assuming it didn’t arrive in a fillable PDF in the first place), fire up Acrobat, add text in the right places, and send it off. By email, if you dare.

Featured image: “Portrait of a business man isolated on white background.” from Shutterstock.



I think it is really nice that you are employing a full-time assistant to duplicate all the effort you put into thinking things and then saying them out loud.

But you do know that both of the major operating systems come with voice recognition built in, right? So does your phone. And if you aren’t satisfied with those options, there are even more ways to turn your voice into text!

Featured image: “Man reading into Dictaphone” from Shutterstock.



I don’t really know how to tell you this, but Blackberry is dead. The touchscreen Z10, which was supposed to save the company, was underwhelming.

Look, have you even used an iPhone or Android phone? Because if you stopped clinging to your Blackberry for a second and tried a modern smartphone, you would see why the company is on life support.

If you are still using a Blackberry, you owe it to yourself to upgrade to an iPhone or Android phone.


Windows XP

You’re kidding with that 14-year-old operating system, right? Even Microsoft thinks it’s time to let go of XP.

(Same goes for you, Vista users.)

Originally published 2014-03-18. Last updated 2015-07-31.


  1. Avatar ATTY ADAMSKY EDWARD says:

    Done and done on all counts.

  2. Avatar Kelly says:

    Oh, gee, I do hate fax machines, BUT they are less trouble than certified mail, which is still, in some courts, the only other valid means of service. And, as my firm’s office administrator pointed out to me recently, a physical fax machine is sometimes legally required for human resource-related communication. Who knew!

    • Avatar Sam Glover says:

      In what circumstances is a physical fax machine a requirement? I’m genuinely curious, because I can’t think of any where a fax service wouldn’t do.

      • Avatar William says:

        Banks and some other institutions will only do faxes because it is more secure than emails. In light of the PRISM/MUSCULAR disclosures, the fact that emails sit on third-party servers that courts have ruled are not protected by the Fourth Amendment means that fax machines, as a direct point to point communication, is more secure from espionage than emails.

      • Avatar Kelly says:

        I believe it had something to do with health insurance and protected health information.

        • Avatar Austin B. says:

          Hmm PHI and HIPAA shouldn’t influence whether you use a physical or virtual fax setup. I’ve set up fax servers (mostly RightFax) at hundreds of physician offices. We also use Sfax (sfaxme.com) ourselves for transmitting PHI; it’s a nice web-based HIPAA compliant option.

      • Avatar Gia says:

        Litigation. Opposing counsel can be served via fax, in person, or mail. Email is not considered valid service. So, if you want to serve them with a Motion at the last minute, no way around a fax (unless you want to fork over for a courier every single time).

  3. Avatar Adam Lilly says:

    The only thing on the list I have is the e-fax service. Not because I want it, but it’s handy for the local courts and sometimes clients.

  4. Combining a smart phone voice recorder with a cloud service like Dropbbox lets an attorney dictate a letter from anywhere and it can immediately be on the assistant’s computer to type. Paying for a dictaphone, that has to be local to one’s office, makes no sense whatsoever for the last several years.

    Copiers are still necessary though in jurisdictions that don’t have efiling (we have several in Nevada) and require courtesy copies, service by mail, etc. Kind of goes to the point Kelly makes – the profession is being held up by Courts being slow to adopt technological change.

    • Avatar Sam Glover says:

      If you are scanning the final document (which you should be doing), a good printer works as well or better than a copier for courtesy copies.

    • Avatar legalofficeguru says:

      “Smart” phone voice recorders would have the ability to easily back up and re-record/playback portions of the current recording. That’s what separates a bona fide dictation app from a mere voice recording app.

      • True that a smart phone isn’t as full featured as a dedicated dicta phone. The big benefits are the mobility/cloud connectivity and cost. Since I didn’t dictate lengthy letters, just the shorter ones, it was perfect for my purposes.

        • Avatar legalofficeguru says:

          The major dictation vendors – Olympus, Phillips, etc. – do have smartphone dictation apps with these features. It’s not just “voice recorder” versus “dictaphone” anymore.

  5. Avatar William says:

    Photocopiers are still useful though not necessary because courts still require courtesy copies, even for electronic filing. Printing works most of the time, but for huge files, you’re better off using the ancient photocopier left in your office by the previous attorney. Even my sturdy Brother MFC-8860DN would go bonkers if I print out 100 pages in one shot. Or when you have multiple parties to serve with papers in a regular case, then you’re going to be photocopying and not using your printer.

    As for typewriters, I inherited one and use them for stuff like checks (because it looks cool and Quickbooks ate all my data) and carbon paper forms.

  6. Win XP has the distinction in this list of being dangerous because of it’s high vulnerability to malware, and impending end-of-security support from MS.

    Though I suppose copiers could also be considered dangerous as well. They generally have hard drives which store everything ever copied, thus exposing a law firm to liability if they eventually sell or discard said copier without knowing to wipe the drive.

  7. Avatar Gus M says:

    The reason for faxes is because, for some reason, opposing counsel sometimes is fax obsessed. I had one case where, even though I would email him documents (and he never complained, so he obviously received them), he would only fax documents to me, despite me asking him to send them via email.

  8. Avatar Avram E. Frisch says:

    As much as I hate faxing, I don’t think I could get rid of it yet. Realtors in NJ still love to fax, as do judges.

  9. Avatar Edward Wiest says:

    I regret to say (at least in Massachusetts) the only form of some documents the Courts will accept (the literally “original” summons and other writs bearing a court seal to be placed in court or other government files) is the form the Court supplies (or should I say sells) in blank. Yes, you can handwrite the appropriate information on such documents–but I think its better “form” to pull out a typewriter if you’ve got access to one. I still do.

  10. Avatar Modred189 says:

    Add carbon copy paper to the mix. SO many orders all over the country are being written in carbon paper in hundreds of courtrooms. Wasteful, illegible and absolutely horrible.

  11. Avatar 55YearBroncoFan says:

    When I joined a firm sixteen years ago, it was using typewriters to fill out Workers’ Comp forms. As a paralegal who took pride in his work product, I found that method to be backwards and inefficient, especially if I made mistakes while typing and had to start over. So I decided to take the time and compile the forms in WP.

    I ensured my compilations were true and accurate copies of the standard forms – even down to the font and spacing of the verbiage. This was long before standard forms were available in WP, Word, etc. online.

    It really worked out for me. By preparing the initial Application for Hearing and Notice to Set for a claim, I had created data that I could cut and paste in subsequent forms for that claim. As a result of compiling the forms in WP I worked smarter and, to boot, produced higher quality work product. The attorney never cared nor thanked me for my initiative.

  12. Blackberry is coming back! No, seriously. :-) Blackberry Priv slider, running Android, that is coming out later this year. I know MANY QWERTY lovers who are waiting with bated breath for it.

  13. Avatar John Strohmeyer says:

    You say “let go of Windows XP” as though it weren’t good enough for Britain to still use in all of their nuclear submarines.


  14. Avatar Branig says:

    Believe it or not, I still have friends who love the blackberry. I don’t know what it is, but that device has some intensely loyal followers (wasn’t Obama stuck on its security features?) But come on, typewriters? I’m not saying I don’t buy it, but I have a hard time believing that many law offices still use those rusty old clackers anymore. Maybe as a novelty to mess with clients?

  15. Avatar Gia says:

    In addition to fax machines still being necessary (see my comment below), albeit, one can switch over to e-fax services. However, for things like typewriters and photocopiers, there is still plenty of NEED. Yes, as in, necessary.

    TYPEWRITERS: I work in family law and there is one particular form that we regularly have to file with divorce cases. You must type or hand write into it. No, it does not come as a PDF, and no, you are not allowed to scan and edit the PDF. The Court wants it on the original paper that it comes on. We go pick up a bunch of them every so often from the Courthouse. And my law firm prefers that we never hand write anything sent to Court or opposing counsel.

    PHOTOCOPIERS: Required for Courts that do not do e-filing and there are still a ton of them in 2017. Printing out multiple copies of signed and scanned pleadings (one for file-stamping, one for opposing counsel, etc, etc) can be taxing on your printer–as someone else said below.

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