Embracing texting will show that we lawyers are not fuddy-duddies

Times Online, March 2, 2007

The College of Law’s decision to alert its students of their exam results via text message is good news not merely for the SMS industry but also for the legal profession. It proves that we are not fuddy-duddies and that we move fearlessly with the times. It is also, I suspect, a harbinger of what no one at the Law Society is calling “The New Radicalism.” A secret memo thus far neither divulged nor even drafted reveals the following plan to create a legal landscape in which even email – let alone all those boring bundles of documents and letters – has become as antediluvian as Noah’s Ark.

From: Policy Review Board

To: All Important Staff

Date: Totally Contemporaneous

1. The present civil justice system is cumbersome and inefficient. Lawyers are perceived as clever but slow. It is still the case that not enough judges know who Gazza is. Most shamefully, in a recent survey only one in every 7,778 lawyers over the age of 17 knew how to send a text message.

2. Text messaging (or, as it colloquially known, ‘Short Message Surface’) has swept the world. One in every two non-lawyer adults said in the same survey that they use SMS to communicate with their friends, family and business acquaintances rather than actually speak to them. “C u l8er M8?” is apparently sent at least 17 times a night by husbands to their wives, who commonly respond by texting “No” once before texting the results of their new hairstyle to their best friend.

3. In order to change both the image and efficiency of the legal system, and to take account of the changing means by which we, as sentient humans, communicate, it has been decided that text messaging will now be deployed in all circumstances bar none, save for point 10 below and the drafting of Policy Review Board memoranda (of whose existence you will henceforth be notified by text message).

4. The new system will entail a root and branch repointing of the fundamental edifices of legal thought. We are not afraid to mix our metaphors for, in text messaging, there isn’t enough space for them.

5. Claim forms are henceforth abolished. It will be far speedier, not to mention appealing to the public, for lawyers to adopt simple SMS linguistics in legal proceedings. “C u in court M8” will now be used as the standard wording by which the claimant (“M8 1”) notifies the defendant (“M8 2”) of a claim. Current abbreviations may be retained, for example “P.I” will signify that M8 2 is being sued in a personal injury matter.

6. In the event that M8 2 wishes to settle a claim, his legal advisors need only send a text saying “U got me bang 2 rights.” If on the other hand M8 2 (or, if there are multiple defendants, any number of M8s) wishes to contest the claim his lawyers shall text “U c me in court? I’ll c u in court M8!”

7. Once in court, the respective M8s will be given clear directions by the judge, again by text. If the judge likes M8 1’s argument, he will text (via what is known as the “send to many” option) “nice 1 M8 1.” If the judge finds one of the legal representatives’ jokes funny (as, we would suggest, should be encouraged) he will text “LOL” to all present. All may then laugh out loud, as instructed. If he wishes to make a judgment, the judge will simply text “U win M8 1” or “U lose M8 1.”

8. N.B: Mobile phones must never be turned off in court. Failure to adhere to this rule will be inimical to the operation of justice and, as such, treated as a disciplinary offence.

9. Do not send texts notifying the Policy Review Board who Gazza is. The Policy Review Board knows of this gentleman and is currently seeking his agreement to spearhead a campaign provisionally entitled “The Law’s yr M8 – use it! Even if the beak don’t no who u is.”

10. Questions of lawyers’ costs will never be dealt with via SMS. Certain aspects of the legal profession are just fine the way they are.