A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Friday, November 1, 2013

My kind of judge!

Our local legal newspaper ran a profile of a state appellate justice, Timothy Reardon, who saw a computer on a colleague's desk for the first time around 25 years ago. Here's what I like about this guy:
That "machine," as Reardon frequently refers to it, has been the biggest change on the court in his 30 years as a judge. He now has a computer himself, but he misses the days when judges and attorneys would interact more in person instead of emailing. He still handwrites his opinions, which his judicial assistant types out.

"I think there is an inclination to just go on the computer without thinking through everything: that you are putting down," Reardon said. ''That's kind of why I enjoy writing it myself."
I liked this, but the article left me hanging. How could the interviewer learn that the justice handwrites his opinions (which can be many thousands of words long, by the way) and not follow up by asking about the pens and paper he uses?

I agree with Justice Reardon that writing by hand generally results in more thoughtful writing (or note-taking, which has led some professors to ban laptops in their classrooms). On the other hand, when you are stuck and just need to get some ideas down on paper in a rapid-fire manner, typing can be a great kick-starter. And, I suspect many clients (and partners) would look askance at anyone trying to write out a 20-page or 30-page brief by hand, considering what lawyers charge by the hour. But if it leads to a more thoughtful first draft and less editing down the road, maybe it really costs nothing more (especially if you're like me and you can't touch-type.)



  1. Oh yes. It is a bit of a conundrum, but I've discovered the act of slowing down to write by hand actually speeds up my thought processes and productivity.

    And as an aside, while I do type by touch I doubt I'm any faster than my little Grannie who typed with her two index fingers and got along quite well.

    Like you, I would love to know which tools this judge uses.

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