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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Legal IT Consulting - Green Printing for Law Firms

We recently completed a consulting engagement with a large international business law firm in Toronto (One of the Toronto's Seven Sisters) with offices all over North America and Asia. We were engaged to customize their Microsoft Word 2010 environment as part of their migration from Windows XP/Word 2003 to Windows 7/Word 2010.

One of the major components of this migration was to support the firm's "Green Initiative" whose goal was to reduce the consumption of paper and printer ink used in their daily operations. ( According to a recent article published in American Bar Association "A typical lawyer uses 20,000 to 100,000 sheets of paper per year, 100,000 sheets = 4.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions!!"). 

While printing documents in law firms cannot be completely eliminated, the consumption of paper can be drastically reduced by printing wisely.  One of the easiest ways to reduce paper usage is to print duplex or on both sides of the paper as often as possible. For instance, when printing a draft copy of a document, duplex printing should be selected by default.

Although double-sided printing seems like a straight forward solution, the implementation is tricky. There are several scenarios where you don't want to print dual-sided  - client letters, contracts, etc. Trying to switch between dual sided and single sided printing is very cumbersome and will lead to poor adoption of any policy requiring the use of dual sided printing. 

To address this problem, we developed a Word print addin to standardize the printing throughout the firm, across all offices.  Our addin created predefined settings for various "Print Profiles". For example:
  • Draft Profile would preselect duplex(double-sided) printing and low print resolution(uses less ink) as the default print setting. The user would just have to select "Draft Profile" and hit Print to automatically print a draft copy using both sides of the paper and a low ink resolution. 
  • Letter Profile would auto select  single-sided, high resolution and letterhead tray as the default print setting.
  • Green Print would preselect duplex, low resolution and 2 sheets per page (In effect, this would print 4 pages of a document in a single sheet of paper - drastically reducing the amount of paper used)

Our addin gave the employees the ability to quickly print documents using various profiles ( Draft, Letter, Memo, Fax, File Copies) with a single click operation!

The addin was built using Microsoft's .net technology and  interfaced directly with the Windows spooler to change printer settings.  The addin worked with all the printers  in the firm and controlled several printer attributes such as duplex settings, resolution settings, trays, orientation, sheets per page, etc.

Since the  deployment of this functionality, the firm has seen a big reduction in paper consumption and savings in printer ink consumption, and the addin has simplified the printing process for various types of documents and improved user productivity.

PS: If you want to try out our Word addin to simplify your printing process and save paper, please contact us at