The Risk Manager, Summer 2018

The Internet has become the communication service of choice for the legal profession. This has significantly reduced reliance on regular mail and delivery services for transmission of legal documents, court filings, and correspondence. Risk management emphasis is now on how to deal with email, the Cloud, and the ever-expanding number of e-devices available for use.

We hope this has not led to a relaxation of good risk management for regular mail and delivery services, but we continue to see cases of malpractice where lawyers failed to have good controls over mailed time sensitive documents. Consider the following questions to evaluate your mail risk management procedures:

  • Do you take it for granted that your mail gets to the proper destination and on time if you mailed it with a reasonable amount of time to get there?
  • Do you assume that the court clerk received and deposited your mailed filing fee and promptly filed the legal document accompanying the fee?
  • Do you avoid using overnight, express delivery companies with Internet tracking service to cut down on costs?
  • Are you familiar with the postage rates, weight limitations on mail, and restrictions on where mail can be dropped?
  • Do you docket time sensitive mailings for follow-up to confirm arrival at the correct destination?
  • Do you have an office procedure to confirm that mailed filing fees have been deposited in a timely manner?
  • Do you use “Address Service Requested” on first class mail?
  • Do you get the temporary address of clients who go south for the winter as part of your routine client intake procedures?

Good risk management requires constant attention to detail by docketing time sensitive outgoing mail for follow-up to assure that it was received in a timely manner by the right addressee and, when a filing fee is involved, that the fee was deposited. If the fee is not deposited in the regular course of business, you are on notice that something is amiss requiring prompt action. Never, never send by regular mail any time sensitive document when there is not enough time to get the irrefutable confirmation that it was received on time. Following this rule could save you from a malpractice claim and a major out-of-pocket expense.