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Bar News - November 18, 2011

New Lawyers Committee: The Greatest Invention of All Time


You may be wondering why on earth a "New Lawyer" has chosen to use this space to tout the miracles of a technology which pre-dates email, cell phone text-messages, and the Internet as we know it. Some young people, and lawyers included, now decry fax as a "dead" technology and opt to forego any communication by fax. This article will hopefully convince all New Hampshire attorneys who are thinking of eliminating their fax capabilities to think twice, and keep that fax number.

Faxing is Fast, Secure, and Affordable

When a client comes to you with an emergency, it is often helpful to immediately communicate your involvement in the matter to a third party. There is no faster, more secure, and affordable way to unequivocally communicate your message and simultaneously receive delivery confirmation. You could call, but this leaves no record of the communication except that it was made. You could send a letter but that would take days and cost your client additional expense for express delivery and confirmation. You might be able to send en email, but this could be unsecure and you do not know if the intended recipient will get the email. Here, facsimile transmission is the best option as it is immediate, secure, provides delivery confirmation, and costs very little.

Faxing is Slow, But Not Too Slow

When you are engaged in contentious settlement negotiations with an out-of-state firm, the last thing you want is to end up ensnared in an email debate which will clutter your inbox and devour all of your time and energy. It is for this reason that I do not list my email address on my letterhead. Email is too easily abused, too easily sent in haste, too carelessly bantered about. People feel free to fire off abusive emails that they would never take the time to print, sign, and mail. The fax machine provides a much needed buffer between oneís thoughts and their communication which can often provide prospective. Although the process of sending a fax is long enough to hopefully give one pause, it does not cause the same delay that the mail can, rendering your communication moot by the time it is read several days later. Therefore, the speed of a fax, slower than email but faster than mail is just right.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too!

In light of the above, you might be surprised to learn that although we have a fax machine in my office, it is not connected to the phone line. That is because I am an ardent supporter of electronic fax. In this manner, I have my fax and email too. To send a fax, I simply compose an email to and attach the Word File or PDF of the document I wish to fax. When I receive a fax at my toll-free number, it arrives in my email inbox as a PDF file. This means that faxes also arrive on my smart phone. Consequently, I never have to worry about the fax machine being out of paper or ink and I always have a record of exactly what was faxed or received archived in my email and accessible to me anywhere in the world.

So, not only can you have your fax and email too, but there are additional benefits. Since you donít have to be physically in your office to send or receive a fax, you can work from a mountain-top ski-lodge, or the beach. Also, should anyone ever challenge what you have sent to them by fax, you can get a record of the exact content of facsimile transmission rather than just a transmission report showing the date, time, and number of pages.

Why itís Different than Email

At this point, you may be wondering how the e-fax service is any different than email if it involves sending and receiving faxes by email. Let me address that point by referring to one of main benefits of fax cited above: buffer. The simple added extra step of having to actually draft your letter, on letter head, properly dated and addressed, and either scan in the documents, or print to PDF, provides the needed "buffer" removing the communication from the often trifling nature of email.

When the opposing party receives the fax, even if they are also using an e-fax service, they canít simply hit reply and go off on a rant. They too will be forced to take a moment and prepare their facsimile transmission, and thereby temper any irrational response.

If you need a fast, secure, reliable, cost effective means of unambiguously communicating a message, then you need to fax.

John F. Skinner, III "Jake" practices consumer protection law throughout NH and MA under the company name CLASS, Consumer Law Advocacy Services. He can be reached at or at or at

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