Are eBriefs Truly Green? Easy Ways to Really Make a Difference
Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:32AM
Aaron Krigelski

Just about any company who prepares eBriefs will remind you in their marketing materials or their sales pitch that submitting an eBrief is the eco-conscious thing to do.   But is it really?  You definitely earn some points by submitting an eBrief and saving a few trees by not printing as many copies; however, if you are serious about reducing environmental impact, there are a few key steps in the preparation and completion of your eBrief that you want to make sure to follow:

File transfers.   There are a handful of good eBrief vendors out there, and chances are none of them is located in your city.   Don’t let this deter you from hiring one just because you think you’ll have to ship them your documents to prepare the eBrief.  To create a truly green eBrief, you want to avoid air freight whenever possible. Aside from the cost, it consumes far more fuel per mile traveled than any other mode of transport.  Plus, shipping obviously increases your turnaround time, and there is a far more efficient option.

It is likely you or your vendor will have access to an FTP site, which has long been the standard in electronic file transfers.  If your vendor is handling the transfer, be sure there isn’t an additional charge associated with FTP setup.  An even better option is to set up an account with one of a number of companies offering secure file transfer.  We really like YouSendIt.  It is simple to use and affordable – the perfect solution for the small or mid-sized firm.  Dropbox is another popular alternative. If you are dealing with large amounts of data, you may also want to check out Accellion.

Media and packaging.  One of the major advantages of eBriefs is of course the ability to pop in a CD or DVD and instantly access the brief and all the hyperlinked supporting materials.  For many clerks and judges this is far more preferable than sifting through binders of documents or batches of PDFs on a server.  But what about the environmental impact of CDs and their plastic cases?  Every year, millions of CDs and DVDs find their way to the landfill or get incinerated, releasing toxic dioxins into the atmosphere. And then there are the jewel cases, generally produced from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), one of the least recyclable of all plastics.  If you want to have a truly green eBrief, there are options to this media. 

At the end of the day, providing an eBrief to the court in any form is preferable to printing and shipping reams or boxes of paper.  Adopting the simple steps above will help your firm go even farther in reducing the impact of legal profession on the environment.

Article originally appeared on Legal Hyperlinked Brief/eBrief Creation and Consulting (
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