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My first real law firm job followed my second year of law school. When I found myself pressing a photocopier button, I felt angry. Had I spent all my college years and invested all this money in law school just to be mindlessly pressing a button? Over the years, I have seen experienced practitioners cop the same attitude — that angry reaction to pressing a button. As a waiter while in college, I once worked for an amazing chef named Starr Boggs whose favorite expression was “everything is everything.” If a dishwasher fell behind, he would start scrubbing pots. Both aspiring and experienced chefs lined up to work for Starr. Why? Because he gave the same joy and attention to scrubbing pots that he did to spending a morning at a farm vegetable stand getting inspired by the sweet scent of fresh peas. Copies can win or lose a case. Stalling a judge while someone runs off photocopies is bad form — a judge whose patience you have already strained may preclude late evidence. Handing your only copy to a witness will gut your cross-examination and make you look foolish. Falling asleep at 4 a.m. at an all-night Kinko’s because someone screwed up a copying job needed for a 9 a.m. argument will adversely affect your performance. So here are a few meditations for those lawyers aspiring to bring the same level of attention and honor to photocopying as a master chef once did to dishwashing. 1. Create client codes. Make sure every client is assigned a number, and every matter for each client is assigned a separate number. Count and write down the number of copies made. 2. Use print audit software. Now that “photocopies” are coming off computers, get print audit software that requires the entering of a client code before printing to automatically track and print copies. 3. Delegate carefully. Only by bringing documents to a local photocopy center will you realize the thousands of ways photocopies can get screwed up. Collated or non-collated? One-sided, two-sided? Exhibits separately stapled? Bound across the top or side? If you show everyone you believe these decisions are important, worthy and significant, those around you will ascribe the same importance to the job and help save you from costly errors. 4. Count. If the Appellate Division requires service of two copies of a brief on your adversary and 11 copies of the brief to be served on the court, you must spend time thinking, in advance, how many copies you will need. A courtesy copy? What if your adversary claims he was not served? Spare sets may save time and money in the long run. I recommend relying on an appellate printer. In analyzing your costs, you may realize an appellate printer is not as expensive as you think. 5. Time. When are you going to find time to make copies? If you have staff or an outside provider, will they be able to work according to your schedule? Planning for copies of exhibits might have to occur even before writing a memorandum of law in support of a motion simply because there is no time to make the copies. Your staff may be happy to make copies days in advance, but they may not be so loyal if allegedly “quick” jobs are constantly dumped on them at the last minute. 6. Strategize. When going to a business meeting, assume the other person has lost everything. A lawyer who always has an extra copy is perceived as competent, prepared and trustworthy. If you do not want someone to hold on to a draft, bring just one copy. When going to court, do you have a fresh copy for the judge, the witness, your adversary or even the jury if you can pull it off? A nice trial evidence binder smoothly distributed to the judge or jurors can make the winning difference. Handing up a copy of a significant case might change a busy judge’s mind on a motion. 7. Bills. Clients often refuse to pay for — and judges will not generally allow billing for — an attorney’s time spent making copies. But a set price per copy is generally acceptable. Billable events may include assembling, collating, sorting, selecting, organizing and preparing — all the things done immediately before and after the actual production of copies. Be careful to describe the time accurately. 8. Client copies. Unless clients receive copies of documents in the mail before receiving a bill, they believe their lawyer has probably done nothing. While clients hate paying for “time,” they generally do not mind paying for “product.” If they routinely receive copies of letters or documents in advance of a bill, resistance to paying may drop dramatically. 9. Paper and PDF files. Secure documents can now be scanned by digital copiers, e-mailed to the world and delivered straight to computers. Is it still a copy? Consider new digital options. Although the paperless world is said to be right around the corner, most of us still have to be able to produce lots of paper, fast. In printing PDF files, you may wish to adjust the resolution before giving the print command. 10. Leases. Photocopier leases are onerous, enforceable against you and chock-full of outrageous hidden costs. Negotiate hard on service guarantees, the number of complimentary copies and free toner cartridges. Duck, if possible, signing the personal liability portion. If you get stuck with a lemon, it will make life miserable. Ignorance of the unreadable fine print is no excuse. Watch out for evergreen (automatic renewal) clauses — you will forget to “opt out” of a five-year lease 120 days before it expires. “Petty” tasks like copying are integral to starting or running your own office. If you consider them irritations, annoyances and insults, you will never enjoy your chosen profession. Remember: The military recruit who finally learns to love and take pride in the shine of his shoes is a force to be reckoned with. Raymond J. Dowd runs the commercial litigation practice of Dowd & Marotta. He serves on the board of directors of the New York County Lawyers’ Association.

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