If you have been reading Legal Bytes regularly, you know that Lois Thomson here at Rimon has been one of the primary people supporting my efforts to transform "legal-ese" into understandable English – no trivial task for those of you who are interacting or have ever interacted with lawyers. So it is with great joy that I was not only able to have her write a post for Legal Bytes, but that I also finally got to edit her article. Hopefully she will smile and agree it’s been helpful. So, Lois, thank you, and here is your relevant and very timely note for all the world to see:
"I looked at an email I received from my friend, Robert, and wondered why the subject line was a reply regarding an issue of Legal Bytes that I had proofread for Joe Rosenbaum. ‘Are you aware that you have been sending these to me?’ Robert’s message read. ‘It seems like that might have been a mistake.’
"Ouch! A mistake indeed! You see, when Joe sends his documents to me to review, I proof them and make my suggested changes. I then simply hit the forward button to return them to him. Now as many of you email-program (e.g., Outlook) users already know, to make life easier (that’s ostensibly what technology is supposed to do), once I start to type in "ro," Rosenbaum, Joseph I.’s name should automatically populate the ‘To’ field. Oops. Not this time. Instead, my friend Robert’s name came up, and without looking – as I’m guessing so many of us routinely do – I hit enter and sent it off, pleased I had been so timely and responsive. Unfortunately, I was responding to my friend Robert, who may happily read Legal Bytes, but not, I suspect, the artist’s proof!
"Fortunately, Joe and Robert were gracious about the whole thing and in this case, both felt no harm was done. But what if the message had been from your lawyer or doctor or a rabbi or priest, or was some other communication that was not ultimately meant for public consumption. It was a simple but powerful reminder to me (and one that Joe felt was important enough to ask me to pass it on to you), that while automated tools can make routine tasks like ‘field completion’ simpler, they can also lead to problems if we rely on them without thinking. Hmmmm, now why can’t I remember phone numbers anymore – is it because they are all programmed into every device I own, so that I no longer have to think?"
A helpful reminder that while automated tools are great, they are just that – tools. If we aren’t careful, the tools can work against us and not for us, and can create embarrassment at best, liability at worst. Thank you Lois (and Robert).
Need to know more? Contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, or any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work. Need proofreading skills? If you don’t work for Rimon, don’t call Lois. She’s busy helping us every day. Thanks again, Lois.