Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday’s Thoughts: Kill the Trees; Use lots of paper.

Lawyers like a lot of paper. The official reason for our love for treecide is the need to keep proper records. Paper serves as evidence when integrity of a gentleman’s agreement fails. Instances abound - paper may be the reason why everyone knows that a loan was given without adequate collateral and why committees to probe fraud are caught in fraudulent acts.
However, I have discovered sundry uses of paper. Ordinarily looking paper, in the right volume, bound in branded (sober looking, of course) jackets can be transformed into a high-utility courtroom accessory. Better still, since few have the patience to read through more than ten lines without their minds wandering to lunch, papers, when filled with appropriate multiple words, provide a ready logical excuse to bill more – the client is impressed at the amount of ‘industry’ gone into filling the sheets with ink, the lawyer’s ego is massaged at the amount of paper he has filled; everyone is happy and the world is one step closer to world peace.
Flowing from my inherent goodness and strong determination to be a ‘good lawyer’, which in my mind, is a mix between Ayo Obe and the late Gani; and my strong love for the use of technology supported by my lack of aptitude (read: laziness) for carrying anything heavier than my phone and flash drive; all clothed in my belief in the inherent integrity of all, I have scorned such underhand moves *insert additional self righteous phrases* of filling paper for less than what is right and true.
At least until today. My paper phobia almost put me into some trouble. I have been working on an agreement with a client who would instruct and reinstruct by telephone. Usually, I’ll send an email to restate her verbal instructions for record purposes. Some time during negotiations, the other party requested for certain amendments to the agreement, which I discussed with the client by telephone. It was mainly a commercial decision and after I explained the consequences to the client, she agreed to incorporate these amendments. Perhaps, she did not think it through. For some silly and probably lazy reason, I did not send a letter. Just as we were about to forward the final copy of the agreement for execution, Posh-tall had the good sense to question a particular clause. She calls the client by telephone. After two minutes of explaining the consequences of the clause to the client, the client claims that I never mentioned the clause to her.
Posh tall is wise enough to realise the client may not have been truthful but blames me for not having a written commitment. She is quite right.
Lesson to learn: baring any invasion of cockroaches, the paper will outlast us all.

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