We posted before about using scriveners for your data backup needs, and we still think scriveners are hallmarks of an efficient and modern law firm. Recent “compliance” issues with digital copiers, however, have reminded us of an uncommon but potentially devastating development for your law firm: a scrivener gone bad. When scriveners go bad, they typically need a reminder of their duties and how to maintain suitable focus. If they go really bad, however, they can insert embarrassing “potty mouth” data into your backups, confuse ediscovery with a children’s board game, and even begin scrivening via Facebook or Twitter. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are three tips you should consider for preventing the scrivener gone bad.
Proper Equipment. In the same way you need a good typewriter, stapler, and an office bar, scriveners need proper modern equipment. Don’t skimp on the scriv. Buy authentic handcut feather quill pens and high quality sealing waxes. We recommend Cire Banque Traditional Sealing Wax. If quill pens are not an option, buy either Montegrappa pens or the exquisite Grayson Tighe Limited Edition fountain pens. Seriously.
Strategic Keyboarding. To this day, scriveners do not recognize the typewriter or keyboard. At all. On occasion, bang on the keyboard in frustration. Complain about the computer loudly. While you do this already, give it some added panache. Exaggeration about the limitations of modern computing brings immense respect from scriveners.
Recognition. Good backup systems hum along in the background, nearly invisible but ultimately there when you need them. Unlike the copier machine, however, scriveners have feelings. Take this into account. Talk to them regularly about scrivening and its long and celebrated history. Bring up great scriveners of the past, such as John Milton (father of the poet John Milton), Phillip Gray (Scrivener of Cornhill and father of the poet Thomas Gray), or Martin Sheen (actor and father of the poet Charles Sheen). But don’t mention Bartleby in the mistaken belief it will garner instant scrivener street cred. One mention of Bartleby and you will receive derision, reduced work effort, and the comment, “whatever, Matlock.”
As Niki Black on Lawyerist wrote last year, scriveners are an “invaluable tool” that helped her write an important book. We feel the same way, about scriveners. But ignore them at your peril. If left to languish or if not invited to office hot tub parties, you may find it difficult to undo the damage of a scrivener gone bad. It is ugly.