On Friday, I related the story of an attorney who wanted to shift his contract compliance obligation onto me, and how he insulted me but nevertheless complied. I didn’t share the whole story then, but will now, as it is a cautionary tale of why you never just want to hit “reply” without seeing what will be appended to your message.
The buyer’s attorney, Mr. I’mTooLazyToStartANewMessage, sent me a seemingly short e-mail: “Please let me know if this is sufficient”, followed by a written confirmation of the transaction.
I could have just replied with a quick “thanks”, but the words of many infomercials rang in my head as I decided to scroll down beyond the written confirmation: BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Seems Mr. I’mTooLazyToStartANewMessage also is a bit of a pot-stirrer. He took the message I sent him the previous day that included the lines …with all due respect I am not going to be placed in a position where I am the one reassuring my clients to change their position based on my understandings of a mortgage broker's verbal assurances. It is the buyers' responsibility to obtain a firm commitment--I noted conditions and asked if same have been or will be met. The buyers or their representative must give written confirmation in order for my clients to act as if the contingency is fulfilled… and he forwarded it to his client and the mortgage rep with a short note: If and when the time comes, you can show this to your Sellers as an example of how their lawyer can be "over the top", so to speak. AND THEN HE FORWARDS IT BACK TO ME!
So my original short note of gratitude back to Mr. I’mTooLazyToStartANewMessage for sending me the confirmation grew more expansive:
Thank you. This transaction is now considered firm.
If I am considered "over the top" because I want you to fulfill your obligation to provide a firm mortgage commitment, per the contract of sale, and not ask me to counsel my clients to sign a lease and give two months security plus first and last month's rent based on a conversation with someone who cannot put things in writing due to "vagaries", then I consider it a compliment to my professionalism. Otherwise, I consider it as unprofessional for you to have put such a thing in writing and sent it to others. I have spend decades building a law practice and my standing in this community is quite important. Yet you have reached outside the bounds of conversing with your client and put in writing to someone I may come in contact again with on a professional basis, plus advocated that your client advise mine that I am "over the top".
If my clients have a problem with my advocating on their behalf, they will tell me directly. I trust they don't need your clients or you to cast me in such a negative light.
Of course, I blind-copied my client, and she replied this way about the same time the attorney called me to offer his apology:
Good reply. I totally understand you trying to protect us, that is why we are working with you.
It is hard enough to make a living and get along in this strange new world. Don’t put yourself in the new position Mr. I’mTooLazyToStartANewMessage now finds himself in, as someone who will get all that is professionally required, without an additional ounce of courtesy.