Commercial Litigation with Ernie Svenson

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In this week’s episode of The Law Practice Doctor, Sam Gaylord interviews Ernest Svenson, who was a practicing attorney in commercial litigation for a large New Orleans law firm. Ernie is adept at being a ‘paperless lawyer’ and gave up his partnership after twenty years to start his own solo practice. Ernie has since gone on to teach lawyers how to dramatically cut their overhead, boost profits, and use tech-savvy materials.

Main Questions Asked:

  • What is the first step for a lawyer who wants to go paperless?
  • Is Paperless Chase your main focus?
  • What hardware do you recommend for an attorney who wants to go paperless?
  • What are the common diagnoses of problems you are seeing with new clients?
  • What are problems you see with the scanning and digitization of automation of an office?
  • What are your prescriptions for solutions and success?

Key Lessons Learned:


Going Paperless

  • Take stock of what it means to be ‘paperless’ and get a clear realistic idea.
  • The key is to not become obsessed about getting rid of all paper, but rather to look at the paper you have and realize that most of it makes you inefficient and inhibits your flexibility.
  • Keep the paper that makes you comfortable and learn how to manage your cases in digital form.
  • People already have a high skill level in managing digital documents, they just have to take the momentum and leverage that.
  • Living in the information age means that you can find information quickly, process it, and don’t lose track.
  • If you digitize your information, you can automate it and compress it.
  • Printing on paper isn’t bad. It’s only bad if it’s the only thing you know how to do.



  1. Digitize documents (scan or create a PDF).
  2. Create a system and manage documents.
  3. How good are you at managing information when it is in digital form?


Recommendations for Hardware & Software  

  • ScanSnap by Fujitsu (comes with Acrobat for Windows users).
  • Adobe Acrobat (standard or professional).
  • Free Adobe Reader.
  • Power PDF by Nuance.
  • Adobe Echo Sign service is a paid monthly service.
  • EFax.
  • HelloFax.


Diagnosis of Problems & Solutions

  • Don’t be impatient and take on unnecessary challenges such as trying to do it too quickly.
  • Start slow with one case or matter and work on it from the moment it comes into the office.
  • Start adding new people and new matters slowly.


Keeping Things in Paper Format 

  • Just because you choose to keep documents in paper format doesn’t mean you aren’t going to scan them and put them into your system too.
  • Ask yourself, ‘what is going to make my life easier?’
  • Try to find areas where you are spitting out paper in an inefficient way and going backwards. It is legal to sign documents digitally.


Prescriptions for Solutions and Success

  • Get good at managing PDFs.
  • Everything will be digital, so get good with technology in general.
  • If you aren’t good already, don’t be afraid to get tech training for yourself.
  • Don’t scan closed files.
  • Change your engagement letter, even if you are not going to become paperless for a year. You will want to know if your client has given you permission to keep the information in digital form.


Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! 


Links to Resources Mentioned

 Paperless Chase

Text: 33444 (get the free guide)


Click To Tweet

Are you a lawyer who wants to go paperless? Find out how w/ @paperlesschase @gaylordpoppllc #paperless

 What are the steps to going paperless? Find out w/ @paperlesschase @gaylordpoppllc #paperless

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