Last month a lawyer in Philadelphia lost his right to pursue a $35,000 fee claim because he did not receive electronic notice of the scheduled arbitration. The ruling is on appeal, so there is a small chance the lawyer will ultimately be able to argue his claim. In the meantime, take heed: if you practice in e-Court, you must learn the technology.
In the Philadelphia case, the lawyer relied on his wife, who was also his secretary, to retrieve and read e-mail. When she broke her arm and was out of the office for an extended period, the lawyer simply allowed e-mail to accumulate. He made no alternative arrangements to retrieve e-mail, failed to hire a temporary secretary during his wife’s absence, and did not know how to use Philadelphia’s e-court system to view upcoming docket activity. To further aggravate matters, the lawyer did not inform the court of his inability to access e-mail.
Copyright 2011 Beverly Michaelis
Note: To obtain the six-page opinion in the Philadelphia case, reference Knox v. Patterson, PICS No. 11-0256, available from Pennsylvania Law Weekly. Many thanks to Amaris Elliott-Engel who broke this story on The Legal Intelligencer in her post Not Checking E-Mail Costs Attorney the Right to Arbitrate February 16, 2011.