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When Should Lawyers Put Down Their Smartphones and Pick Up a Pen?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on December 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When was the last time you picked up a pen and a pad of paper? Attorneys these days are armed with any number of high-tech tools. Laptops, iPads, and smartphones are all useful gadgets for any lawyer's tool belt. Why write things down, when you can just type notes onto your smartphone?

Well, maybe because there are some benefits to handwriting documents, as Fast Company has pointed out. Some benefits are even applicable to hardworking attorneys.

Here are just a few:

  • Pen and paper is just so much more convenient sometimes. Jotting down some thoughts in a notebook can be loads faster than shuffling through your pockets and powering on your smartphone.

  • Writing things down the old-fashioned way helps you remember. Studies have shown that when you handwrite something, a larger portion of your brain activates compared to when you type. Specifically, the thinking, language and "working memory" regions of the brain flare up with activity, reports Fast Company. Lawyers are constantly being asked to remember and recall cases, codes, and other information. Maybe handwriting a few notes now and then will help.

  • Writing by hand can be more fun. Writing down to-do lists or outlining your latest brief can be a tortuous chore. This is especially true if you're staring at a blank page on your computer monitor. Creating your own to-do lists by hand may make the simple task more engaging, and ultimately more memorable.

  • At the very least, edit by hand. Scribble notes in the margins of briefs, or draw arrows to indicate where you think content should be edited. Editing documents in word processing software, even with "track changes" turned on, can be clunky. Sometimes breaking out a red pen and highlighting areas that need to be fixed is the way to go.

It's hard to separate yourself from technology, but don't let that stop you. Sometimes, even the best computer cannot replace your own hand.

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