Lawyers like to complain a lot about sucky things, particularly sucky things that are unethical. It’s part of the occupation. Often, however, the perceived suckiness is, in fact, completely ethical. Like office hot tubbing with opposing counsel’s daughter. Or using Times New Roman. Wrong and sucky. But ethical. Here are four things we rank as sucky but that still manage to stay within the ethical bar.
The 2:00 Friday Afternoon Memo
We’ve all been there. It’s 2:00 on a Friday afternoon, you’ve reached your six Dewar limit in the office, and you’re about ready to call it a day to join your colleagues at a bar association pub crawl. Suddenly, you hear the sound of dial-up and your fax machine starts whirring. It’s the dreaded 2:00 Friday afternoon memo, typically served up by fax and delivered on thirty pages of semi-scrolled thermal paper. You look at it in disgust, knowing that some newbie lawyer out there wants you to know he exists. Sucks big time. But ethical.
Unplugging the Fax Machine
Hard to believe, but some attorneys continue to eschew the use of a fax machine. Worse, there are attorneys who turn off their fax machines at night or, in some cases, turn it off over the weekend. Even though you can deliver almost anything by fax (we once delivered an autographed Bill Laimbeer basketball by fax), there is nothing requiring an attorney to own a fax machine, let alone use it. In fact, it is perfectly ethical for opposing counsel to unplug the fax machine in the middle of your third important fax transmission of the day. Sucky, but ethical.
Running from the Process Server
I’m not quite sure about this and have not yet done any preliminary research, but last time I looked it was perfectly ethical to run away from a process server. Sure, the purists call it “avoiding service.” But why wait around for things to happen? If, hypothetically, you are one to complain about scrambling along the back alley of an office building to chase me down, then suck it. It’s ethical. At least so far.
Delivery by Fax, Email and Mail
This should be unethical but it isn’t. It just plain sucks. When just a simple fax transmission will do, you get the identical document delivered nearly simultaneously by email. Two days later, excited that you’ve inexplicably received a check in the mail from opposing counsel, it’s just the same identical document that your favorite Cardozo delivered earlier by fax and email. But now it’s on expensive watermarked paper with raised lettering. Why can’t bar associations concentrate on sucky things like this? Ban triple dip delivery. Now.