By Attorney Howard Iken: I hate to admit it, but I go back to the day when people sarcastically spoke of their taxes going to buy $500 toilet seats for the army. There was a lot of government waste back then and a lot of complaints. I do not mean to downplay the current tax problems but I always remembered the $500 toilet seat. The theory was that tax dollars were so plentiful that government entities felt entitled to spend insane amounts of money on everyday items – such as a toilet seat.
The practice of law and the pattern of some attorneys bring to mind that $500 toilet seat. One common practice involves communication between attorney offices. I have a “business” mentality and always think of my client’s money as a precious asset – not to be squandered on foolish uses of time. So my first impulse is to pick up the phone and try to settle things with the other attorney. Unfortunately that does not work in legal practice. Very few attorneys like to pick up their own phone. Even fewer appear to like communicating by email. And the way they end up communicating turns a very inexpensive email into a $500 toilet seat.
The most amusing pattern I often see is the response I get from emails to other attorneys. Sometimes I email a proposal, suggestion, or comment to another attorney. I am a technology nut so I have been comfortable with email ever since we all discontinued using carrier pigeons for sending messages. I love email and text. If that does not work I use the phone for immediate results. Some attorneys do not share that love for technology. That becomes really obvious in the way they respond to an email. With one particular attorney, I send an email and wait. One week goes by – no response. Another week goes by and a letter arrives. The letter contains the reply to my email. Knowing what it takes to draft a letter, prepare it, and send it – that response just cost the other side several hundred dollars. It is the equivalent of the $500 toilet seat.
I now know that the $500 toilet lives on!