Modern Technology in the Law Office – The Place of the Typewriter in Today’s Legal World

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Attorneys are often early adopters of technology, often to their detriment as technology advances, gets cheaper or goes obsolete.  However, there is one piece of old-fashioned technology that refuses to die – the typewriter.

I own two typewriters.  When I started law school in 1995  at Santa Clara University School of Law, notebooks and laptops were almost as fully-featured, if not as powerful, as they are today.  However, the California Bar Examination, in 1995, did not allow for the use of computers.  At the time, only typewriters with no more than one line of memory were allowed.  The idea was that you could put some valuable information into the device to gain an advantage in taking the bar exam.  I purchased a Smith Corona Memory Correct 400.

I typed all of my law school examinations on the Smith Corona. I learned to touch type in 1987 thanks to the Norman Feldhym Public Library and a host of Apple II GS computers (and some forgotten software).   In the summer of 1998 while studying for the July 1998 bar examination, I was able to procure a second, back-up typewriter just in case the Smith and Corona broke.

By the time I took the bar exam, laptops were allowed with the use of a special program designed to lock out the hard drive.  It was new technology, and though I had about a year’s notice, it was not time to switch horses in the middle of the race.

The Smith Corona still bears a sticker that says “July 1998 California Bar Examination” and my applicant number.  I didn’t have to use the back-up typewriter, and the convention center did not lose power.  I received my successful bar results in November 1998 and was sworn in the first week of December 1998.

When I arrived at Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino, at least one of the typists was still using an IBM typewriter to fill out Judicial Council forms.  Not some of the forms, or some of the information, but everything.  I always used a computer there, unless I had to type a form not included in Legal Solutions.

In the cities of San Bernardino and Redlands, the City Attorney’s Offices still have typewriters for forms that need to be typed, and envelopes and that sort of thing.  I would occasionally borrow the IBM Selectric at a secretary’s station.

When I started my own practice, I dragged out the Smith Corona for government claims provided by entities as non-fillable PDFs.  Sometimes, it is easier to use a typewriter on an address then to print it from the computer.

The Smith Corona is holding up pretty well.  It was manufactured in the United States, just before Smith Corona moved its typewriter manufacturing to Mexico.  I think it will survive for auxillary tasks in the law office for a long time, even if it is not state-of-the-art technology.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055