Over the last few years, I’ve noticed some really super passive aggressive tricks commonly used by lawyers in communications with ‘the other side’. Used in the right way, these tricks can send the blood pressure of your fellow professionals sky high. Better still, the recipient might be sufficiently provoked to come back with a return serve of barely-disguised nastiness. Those kind of ‘back-and-forths’ can be looked back on fondly in the autumn of your career, or, if you’ve got a real corker, printed, framed and proudly displayed on your office wall.
Here are some of my favourites:
Snarky and patronising comment balloons. Yeah, I know we’re all guilty of those from time to time. Prefacing comments with the words “of course”, “obviously” or “clearly” are particularly prone to enrage. However, just because I complain about it, doesn’t mean to say I’m not also guilty. Ahem.
Eschewing email attachments and insist on sending a hard-copy travelling draft. Heck, why let technology help you out when you can struggle along the old fashioned way?
Being overly formal in an email. “I refer to our previous correspondence in this matter and look forward to hearing from you thereon.” Lovely. I guess they missed the lesson on using plain English wherever possible in modern legal practice.
Deliberately downsampling documents so they’re borderline illegible (and insist on being unable to obtain clearer copies). I’ve also had a solicitor tell me his client can only send a photograph of the document. I countered this by sending him photo negatives of our client’s document. (Just kidding.)