Monday, August 10, 2015

It's A Small World After All!

A fun war story about practicing family law in the internet age.  Today I went around the world to negotiate a settlement.

This past Friday opposing counsel sent me a settlement proposal by email from her San Francisco office before leaving to spend a month in Asia.  I then forwarded that proposal to my client who is vacationing in Maui.  This morning my client and I used the collaborative tools in Adobe Acrobat to dissect the proposals and to develop our counter points. Next I drafted a response letter in Microsoft Word and sent the Word file to my client for review. He used the collaborative/track changes tools in Word to make his desired modifications to the letter, and sent the file back to me. We also talked on the phone (the weather was quite nice in Maui!).  After reviewing and approving the modifications from my client I converted the letter into a pdf document, affixed my electronic signature, and sent the letter via email to opposing counsel, so that she can download it, and work on it while in Asia.  I cc'ed my client on the email, and also uploaded a copy of the letter to his online document repository so that he could always find a copy of it.

Ten years ago things were not this easy. Shows you how technology can improve the practice of law. Also reminds us though that if we are not careful with how we manage technology it can take over our lives, and make the office inescapable.

To avoid having worldwide 24/7 availability eat me alive I have attorney-client communication rules that I educate my clients to before they hire me. I also explain these same rules to opposing counsel, for whom they have equal application.

  1. I communicate during office hours. That scope extends to phone calls and emails. 
  2. I only work on weekends in emergencies. 
  3. My client or opposing counsel going on vacation is not an emergency (I do relax this rule a bit if I am going on, or coming back from a trip).

These rules help maintain peace and order. They only work if you lay them out at the get go, and they only retain their efficacy if you have the discipline to stick with them.

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