Why (some) law firms and lawyers annoy me

law, society

Disclaimer: I have a law degree, but — for a variety of reasons — decided not to practice law even before I attended law school. Long story 😀

So yesterday I received an e-mail with the following boilerplate as the sig:

This E-mail message is private and confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the addressee. All emails sent by me remain my property. You must obtain written permission to forward in part or whole any message, data contained within, MX and other header information. Doing so without my written permission constitutes an agreement between me, you and the party you forwarded the information to pay me a sum of no less than $5000. This is a legally enforceable contract between me, you, and the party to whom you forwarded the information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, copying, reproduction, modification, or publication of this communication is illegal and prohibited by law. Please delete the message from your computer and destroy any copies. This message is not intended to be relied upon by any person without subsequent written confirmation of its contents. The sender therefore disclaims all responsibility and accepts no liability of any kind that may arise from any person acting, or refraining from acting, upon the contents of the message without having had subsequent written confirmation. If you have received this message in error, please contact me at the following number:

[REALLY large font]Moron, Idiot & Associates Inc.[/font]

Url: www.moron-idiot.com

Office: 555-555-5555

E-fax: 555-555-5555

E-Mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Moron Idiot & Associates Inc.

Bad enough as it is, but — here’s the clincher: it was sent to a discussion group that I moderate! I politely told the person that:

1) The mere size of his sig was discourteous to list members.
2) Beyond that, it was the biggest bunch of bovine excrement (not to mention unenforceable nonsense) I had ever seen in a sig, and that was saying a lot.

He wrote back angrily with the following:
1) Was I trying to dictate what sigs were and were not allowed in this group? How dare I!
2) In today’s society, not enough people respect intellectual property, dammit, and he was doing his part to change that!
3) Okay, so maybe it didn’t form an enforceable contract [you don’t say!], but it was the principle of the matter, and hopefully it’d serve as a deterrent from evil people forwarding his e-mails to others.
4) His LAWYER FRIEND specifically wrote it up for him, and she knew what she was doing!
5) Had I passed the Bar, or was I illegally practicing law by commenting on his sig?

* * *

Is there a more potently annoying combination than a stupid lawyer and her gullible friend? Or, if I may wax conspiratorially, perhaps she secretly loathed the fella and decided to have a little fun with him?

And seriously, people, why *DO* so many law firms (and other companies) add such drivel to their e-mails? I especially love it when friends at these loser organizations send me a one-line reply like, “Sure, 7pm for drinks sounds great!” followed by 37 lines of balderdash. Can’t they at least selectively turn the dodo-sig on and off?

Do any of these companies actually think:
1) These “contracts” are enforceable (without consideration much less consent)?!
2) That evildoers will think twice about forwarding juicy e-mailed tidbits just because of a stupid toothless sig?
3) That there aren’t dozens or hundreds of people who think their firms are complete twits for crufting up folks’ e-boxes with such assinine bloviations?

When will these ridiculous sigs die a well-deserved death? And what can you and I do to hasten the matter?

* * *

And while we’re on the topic of other lawyer-related-annoyances…

Why do people still use “Attorney at Law” in promotional literature, yellowpages ads, etc.? Yes, yes, I vaguely recall the historical significance of such a label, but really, do we have Attorneys at Plumbing or Attorneys at Yodeling nowadays? Wouldn’t “Attorney” or “Lawyer” suffice?

Also, why do law firms (and, admittedly many other professional firms) insist on using their partners’ names as the company name, e.g., “The Law Offices of Fredericks, Hollywood, and Vine”? What else should they call their law firm? Hell, I don’t know, and I don’t care, but the current convention just smacks of oft-difficult-to-spell pomposity to me. One might protest that, well, how might one distinguish the many law firms in a given city from one another, and I’d say, hell, there are 1,179 Chinese Restaurants within 20 blocks of my apartment, and they seem to manage. Accenture isn’t someone’s last name, and they don’t seem to be doing appreciably worse than the Delighted Tushes and Poop Wiserhouses of the world. And wouldn’t the world (or at least the courtroom) be a bit more charming if folks were represented by attorneys from the “Happy Law and Doughnuts” firm, or “Lucky Rabbit Foot” law firm or “Fire Dragon Boat” law firm?

Don’t get me wrong. I like lawyers overall. I eat and dance with many of them and one day I’m sure at least one will save my sorry ass (unless, of course, he or she has read this blog entry, in which case they/’ll likely just throw me to the wolves). But the institution of law itself is, IMNSHO, in ripe need of reform, and not just the sort of chocolate tort reform our congresscritters (themselves, the worst sort of lawyers) are busy shoving in each others’ faces.

* * *

Oh, if the nitwit who posted the above sig file is reading this? Please feel free to sue me. I could use the extra publicity for my blog 🙂

5 comments… add one
  • Ray Baxter Aug 20, 2005

    Bang. That was the sound hitting the nail squarely on the head.

    What I don’t understand is why these individuals don’t get a separate free e-mail account for their personal mail? Don’t Moron, Idiot & Associates Inc. care that their employees are sending mail to the universe through their mail server, and under the cover of their firm?

    The worst is when these individuals set up their e-mail with an out-of-the-office reply. In the best case they only send one, but I have been on lists where there was a new reply generated to the entire list, every time there was a new contributor to the list. I got pretty tired of hearing about Molly’s vacation to Hawaii before the two weeks were up.

  • Rob Stevens Aug 26, 2005

    Nicely put.  These stupid signatures have been driving me nuts for years.  The only thing worse, is the person who redundantly adds their e-mail address to their e-mail signature.

    As for why they name the firms after the partners … it’s a business rule, actually, based on the type of ownership agreement in place.  If you name the company with the owner’s names, it simplifies the ability to establish and maintain the company. 

    I’m way oversimplifying the process, but the point is, there’s actually a valid reason why they do it.  It’s not all about ego or pomposity.  Well, ok … maybe a little bit.

  • Terrin Jun 11, 2007

    No offense, but there is no valid reason for naming firms after partners other then convention. If there once was, hardly anybody knows what it is today. PC, LLC, INC after the names tell you who legally owns a business, including law firms. There are a few law firms with cool names, such as Paladin Law Group.

    I too went to law school, and did pass the bar. However, stiff uncreative people usually make up the population of lawyers and often make it no fun to practice. That and all the BS lawyers are put through, like having to take a meaningless stupid test before you practice in a State.

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  • motocross boots Feb 20, 2009

    what really amuses me is that it was written by a lawyer friend who ‘knew what she was doing’. I have my doubts about her license now…

    [Heh, I agree with you that that’s pretty amusing :D.  But I don’t agree with sigs, so I’ve deleted yours (though kept your URL live in the URL field).  Sorry!  -Adam]

  • Travis Apr 3, 2009

    I like your debunking of the redundancy of saying “Attorney’s at Law.”  That’s just like saying “Personal Trainer at Working Out.”

What do you think?