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Enough said: You may be a legal dinosaur if...

By Thomas Van Flein

If you have ever wondered whether you are a legal dinosaur, clinging to the old ways while technology and language pass you by, we have devised an easy quiz to help answer the question (and with a tip of the hat to Jeff Foxworthy):

(1) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you use the word 'said' as a modifier instead of a verb. You may be a legal dinosaur if you wrote something like this: 'The said inspector thereupon reported by telegraph to the Director of Immigration at Ketchikan, Alaska the arrival and detention of petitioner and said other aliens at Nome aforesaid.' Pestereff v. Reed, 7 Alaska 644, 646 (D. AK 1927). You are teetering on the edge of being a legal dinosaur if you regularly use the terms 'herein,' 'hereto,' or 'therein';

(2) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you now refer to the 'kid' you once hired as 'your honor';

(3) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you dictate pleadings and letters. Let's face it, if you still dictate you probably did not go to college or law school during the computer age and learn how to type at least as fast as you can think. Everyone knows that dictation is slow. Once you complete your tape, it sits in your secretary's in-box for a day or two, longer if you are not a name partner. Your pressing letter demanding a response and urgent action from your opponent by the end of the week isn't even typed up before your own deadline expires. Then, when you get the document, you have to make your revisions and put it back in your secretary's in-box, where it sits until Monday since you didn't get it back until Friday. Finally, on Monday, you get to sign the letter. Meanwhile, your counterparts, who can type their own letters, have since been dismissed from the case. Also, who hasn't read a pleading that repeats a point at least two or three times? This is a classic sign of dictation and dinosaur-hood. Plus, those who dictate tend to repeat arguments;

(4) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you start every pleading with the phrase 'COMES NOW THE DEFENDANT' or a similar variation. (This is even more problematic if you start this way and you represent the plaintiff). With that kind of an introduction we would expect some trumpets blaring and a red carpet;

(5) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you like the phrase 'Further your affiant sayeth naught.' I think if we end affidavits like that, the whole affidavit should be in King James English, liketh this: 'Mine eyes have seen the tragedy, the horror, and forsooth, the spectacle of the defendant's wanton carriage driving, leaving me neck a wee bit tweaked.'

(6) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you have your secretary call for you and ask, 'would you please hold for' you. Actually, this is just noxious.

(7) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you send a letter that ends with 'Dictated But Not Read.' If you can't take the time to read your own letter, don't expect others to. Plus, is this supposed to be some type of a disclaimer? If the letter admits liability, will it be a defense to say, 'Yeah, but I never read the letter'? In any event, the proper response is to return the letter with a stamp that says 'Opened but not read. We won't read it until you do.' Also, see paragraph 2 on dictation.

(8) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you refer to your legal assistant as 'toots' or 'cutie-pie'. However, on the upside, by doing so you could learn everything you ever wanted to know about the law regarding a hostile work environment, a special, in-depth CLE involving a fact pattern only you can appreciate;

(9) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you consider cowboy boots and a fringe jacket appropriate trial attire;

(10) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you think the three martini lunch will soon be back in style... along with the leisure suit;

(11) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you still have hardbound reporters and law books, or you know how to manually Shepardize a case ... or use a Digest to research case law;

(12) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you give your associate a research assignment that starts with something like 'I remember there was a case where a school bus went through an intersection and there was a moose or a ferret or a dog or possibly a kid involved.' You then tell the associate what you recall the case stood for. The associate returns that afternoon noting that you represented a party in the case and it stands for the exact opposite of what you remembered;

(13) You may be a legal dinosaur if ... you use your computer monitor as a place to post reminders and phone messages;

(14) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you catch yourself looking for your friends in the 'In Memoriam' section of the Bar Rag rather than the 'Bar News';

(15) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you miss the Warren Court.

(16) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you work the phrase 'Oyez, Oyez, Oyez' into daily conversation;

(17) You may be a legal dinosaur if... you refer to the fax machine as a 'telefax' and you think it is still new technology and you don't like people sending you documents this way.

GOT ANY OTHER EXAMPLES?: Send them by e-mail to anch@cpsattorneys.com. If you don't have e-mail, well, you may be... able to use the 'telefax' and send it that way to us: 272-9586.

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