Email and other disclaimers are the mark of a true professional who understands the intricacies of IRS Circular 230. But there is a dark side to disclaimers, and that’s the “dis” part, the part that constantly says “no” to the people who just want to feel the love of “yes.” Lawyers already get a bad rap for saying no too often, mucking things up. It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, in response to some groundbreaking work from a consortium of life coaches, more and more lawyers are turning to the “happy” disclaimer, or the “proclaimer” as it is now being called in the profession. Here’s how it works.
Let’s take a standard disclaimer that many attorneys have in their emails. It usually starts out something like this:
This communication constitutes an electronic communication within the meaning of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 USC 2510, and its disclosure is strictly limited to the recipient intended by the sender of this message. This communication and any files transmitted with it may contain confidential and privileged material blah, blah, blah and so on and so on and [insert threat of dismemberment].
A proclaimer would go something like this:
Hey there, bub! Reading stuff down here? We’re lawyers. We send out things like this all the time but only to special people. Feel affirmed? If yes, great!! We love it! If no, that’s OK. Maybe you’re just pixel counting and don’t want to be bothered. No problem. Just send it back and we’ll spread our love around to somebody else. Muchos gracias!
That’s a very basic example. Taking a proclaimer to the next level, though, involves changing a disheartening “no” to a life-affirming “yes.” So, a standard disclaimer about legal advice, such as this:
The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel, nor does it constitute advertising or a solicitation.
Becomes a positive proclaimer with this:
Hey! You’re our client now, without doing anything. Imagine that. Thanks! Grab some of our legal advice on Twitter, in emails, on public forums, even on our web site. We’d love to talk to you in person and give you additional legal advice whenever you ask for it or even think about it. Tweet us! Or text us. Anytime!
Finally, the back in fashion retro-cool look of emoticons can happify your disclaimers, to wit:
:grin: Hi! We’re big fans of Internal Revenue Service Circular 230. Never heard of it? :roll: No problem. If for whatever remote reason we seem to have provided U.S. federal tax advice (God forbid! :shock: ), we don’t mean to. :oops: Our bad. That kind of thing is a bit advanced for us, so relying on our advice is very dicey. We’re more of a people’s kind of people. Peace out. :mrgreen:
Bottom line? Be creative. Don’t be a “noclaimer.” Embrace life and be a “yesclaimer.” Will you get sued? Pshaw. When’s the last time someone got sued for lack of a good disclaimer? 1912. Or thereabouts. Don’t worry about it. Get out there and make people happy. It’s your job.