You’ve Got Fail
Alarming breakdown of communication at the Oregon State Bar
A stunning 2% of Oregon’s licensed attorneys were put on administrative suspension earlier this month due to their failure to submit yearly trust account paperwork, as reported by the Bar to its favorite snafu-launderer, the Oregonian.
Far more accurately, the suspensions were due to the Bar’s communication breakdown caused by their unsuccessful attempt at implementing a functioning email system. The Bar instead designed one that dumped important emails directly into law firms’ spam folders.
The Bar had announced its shiny new platform on the homepage of its website as early as January, telling members that they “may need to update their systems to allow the most critical emails to come through,” and even “recommending” that they do so “for best results.”
That is to say, the Bar did not explicitly warn its licensees that they must update their systems in order to continue receiving the Bar’s most serious communications.¹ It is bizarre that the Bar didn’t simply warn members of the new email system by sending an email through the old system before the change was executed.²
Unsurprisingly, because of this incompetence,³ many members then missed the reminder that the Bar sent them regarding the trust account paperwork. And then they were suspended … 332 of them to be precise.
Underscoring the ridiculousness of the situation: All three of the suspended lawyers interviewed for their article first learned of their suspension from the Oregonian.
That is an objectively alarming breakdown of communication between a state agency — the Oregon State Bar — and the attorney licensees that it regulates.
According to the Oregonian, Bar spokesperson Kateri Walsh mischaracterized this group as “a pretty tiny fraction of the bar membership,” and further stated that the Bar “will make sure lawyers are aware of its new email platform.”
It is unknown if Walsh intended her remark to be considered as a contractual obligation to its clients: its licensees and the public.
¹ There is a legal distinction between “may” and “must” that has been written about at length and that the Bar is certainly aware of. As lawyers who should know better, they should use more precise language.
² It’s almost comical that the Bar’s new email system — which was touted specifically as a way for members to reduce junk mail sent by the Bar — is so effective at reaching through the interwebs and placing vital emails into spam folders. Like, they couldn’t have done a worse job if they intended to.