Making the Grass Greener on the (Court)Side: The Move Towards Green Litigation:

Suits fans ought to be well-acquainted with Harvey Specter’s dramatic performances in court. Whether it is a last-minute trial or a class action, Mr Specter always seems ready to engage in a battle of the words and wits.

But in reality, litigation is not this straightforward. It also comes at a price…a very, very heavy price (literally).

The Main Downfalls of Litigation:

COST:

Lawyers aren’t cheap, and neither is litigation.

In many cases, the cost of lawyer fees outweighs the client’s claim or potential damages.* This has led to the increasing popularity of alternative ways of resolving disputes between parties such as mediation and arbitration (we shall cover these in another article).

*Damages are a legal term used to describe a financial reward awarded by the court if a claimant is successful in their case. Damages are awarded at the court’s discretion.

TIME:

While Harvey Specter always seems to be able to pull a few strings to land an emergency hearing, these are actually very difficult to obtain in real life.

Litigation is generally a lengthy process which requires a significant amount of time to prepare evidence and witness statements before a hearing. For client’s seeking to gain a speedy solution, litigation may not be the best option.

RESOURCES:

Let’s move on to the final downfall (which is also the central focus of this article).

The sheer volume of paperwork produced by litigation is concerning due to two reasons. Firstly, a missing page or displaced document can make or break a case – particularly in high-value claims where a claimant may have a lot on the line. Therefore, there is an increasing urge within the legal community to seek alternative ways of managing documents (which we will get to!).

Secondly, the carbon footprint produced by litigation has been an increasingly pressing concern amongst our environmentally-conscious society, and one that may to some extent be counter-balanced by the following Pledge…

Saving the World, One Pledge At A Time:

Last month, law firm Mishcon de Reya launched the Greener Litigation Pledge in order to tackle the environmental impact of traditional litigation.

All image rights belong to According To A Law Student (ATALS).

The Pledge is a yet another step towards reducing carbon emissions following the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations. It is also part of the wider Greener Litigation Project, which tackles reducing the environmental impact of litigation. The details of the Pledge can be found here.

As well as the firms in the above infographic, other signatories include:

  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • Covington
  • Exton Advisors
  • Field Court Chambers
  • Fountain Court Chambers
  • Kennedys
  • Kingsley Napley
  • Opus 2
  • Three Crowns
  • Vine Law
  • 3 Hare Court

DON’T GET CONFUSED! While there has been a sharp increase in legal disputes concerning climate change over recent years, the Greener Litigation Pledge encompasses all areas of litigation. For a more detailed review on climate change litigation, click here.

Jumping on the (Green) Bandwagon:

While the Greener Litigation Pledge has already received the green light from some of the biggest names in the legal sphere, the Pledge is still very much in its early days and it is expected that the list of signatories will continue to grow.

In the meanwhile, let’s look at another example of how the legal industry has taken steps in its journey towards net zero emissions…you guessed it, technology!

The use of technology within dispute resolution has become an increasingly popular method of handling cases (and the many documents that come with them!). Litigators are well-accustomed to using various types of software in their day-to-day working life, for example time management platforms such as Tabled. However, the sudden shift towards remote working has opened a gap in the market for a platform specifically designed for streamlining dispute resolution processes.

Please enter, Opus 2.

Opus 2 is a legal technology company and one of the Founding Signatories of the Greener Litigation Pledge. In a nutshell, Opus 2 uses cloud-based software to simplify litigation, and in turn, make it more environmentally-friendly. One of the main uses of the company’s platform is document management. As all files are uploaded onto the system electronically, the days of missing documents are long gone. Further, the cloud-based nature of the platform allows all authorised parties to access the documents at any time. This means that law firms no longer have to print mountains of paperwork (and often duplicates!), thus saving time, money and resources – resolving the three main downfalls of traditional litigation!

While this is perhaps just one example of how legal technology is transforming the dispute resolution sphere, the move towards green litigation is already causing permanent changes in how lawyers resolve disputes on behalf of their clients, and how courts handle such cases.

Do you think Harvey Spector would approve?

This article was written by April (Founder of According To A Law Student (ATALS)). April is a recent Law graduate and her main blogging interests consist of Intellectual Property, M&A and technology.

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