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Are Inkjets Acceptable for Printing Legal Documents?

samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

I've never thought so, but Epson has been pushing its "laser-like" technologies for years. I guess the appeal is mainly cost? Here's a network-ready Epson color multifunction for $320. Compare that to this HP color LaserJet multifunction that I reviewed a few years ago. It costs just under $440, and it's also quite a bit larger.

But it also produces smudge-free laser printouts. (It's fair to assume, I think, that some judges will want to use a highlighter on your briefs). And the total cost of ownership is almost certainly lower.

Do you think inkjets can produce acceptable legal documents? Are they worth it, given the almost-certainly-higher total cost of ownership vs. laser printers?


  • John_DJohn_D Illinois

    The price of laser printers has dropped so low since the last time you reviewed, your numbers are even further off. You can pick up a Brother DCP7065DN for around $180. It does a great job printing in laser and a pretty good job scanning. You can pick up a non-multifunction printer for around $130 (HL2280DW).

    With laser printers this inexpensive, there is no reason for a law office to consider using an inkjet.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    edited October 2014

    Well, I was quoting the current price of that HP unit, but it's possible there are cheaper network-able color laser multifunctions out there. Anyway, the point stands that saving a hundred bucks more or less doesn't really seem like meaningful savings. Your printer will last for years, and you're probably going to spend a lot more on ink or toner than the printer itself, in the long run. If a hundred bucks up front is a big deal, there's a chance your practice isn't very healthy.

    For the record, by the way, I think multifunctions are a terrible idea.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    edited October 2014

    I should add that I also don't think it's a great idea to skimp on a printer. That $130 laser printer may seem like a good idea — until you've got to print out four sets of exhibits for a trial. I was up until 4am one night just waiting for things to print. As soon as the trial was over I spent $500 on a workgroup-class HP laser printer.

  • There are some very good inkjet printers and I find it hard to discern the difference between documents on them and laser. But those printers tend to be expensive, sometimes almost as much as a comparable laser.
    In my solo practice, I have an HP 500 MVP color laser multifunction. It cost more than an entry laser from HP or Brother, but is well worth the investment. It is quieter and faster than cheaper models, is auto duplex, and has a good copier when needed. This machine, coupled with the Snapscan i500 makes my office complete.

  • Adam LillyAdam Lilly Cumming, Georgia

    I think part of it (cheap v. expensive printers; laser is a given) depends on your practice. I have a cheap Brother that's perfect for my needs, as I don't think I've ever printed more than 100 pages in a single day. I can wait 3 minutes for that if needed.

  • There is a good health reason for using inkjet instead of laser. Laser printers emit clouds of toner particles into the air, which are hazardous to the lungs. I read somewhere that it's just as harmful as secondhand smoke. If you keep the printer away from you in a separate room, it's no big deal. Otherwise, I'd say the health risk is a perfectly good reason to use inkjet, despite the shortcomings.

  • Adam LillyAdam Lilly Cumming, Georgia

    Don't know if anyone else has had an issue with this, but a few weeks ago my small Brother laser printer (HL-2270DW) stopped working over wireless. I tried troubleshooting it - uninstalling /reinstalling drivers, factory reset of the printer, trying it on different computers, on different wifi networks, actually calling tech support, etc - but got nowhere. Since it had been great for 5+ years, I tried getting the updated version (HL-L2340). Same problem. Given what I tried to fix the problem, my guess is the issue was with the drivers not working with OS updates, but I'm not sure (and honestly don't care).

    So now I've got the HP M452DW. Setup was a breeze, and so far, so good.

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