Can I send another lawyer legal papers by email and/or fax?

That depends. As long as there is agreement among the lawyers, it should be no problem. But in litigation, games arrive immediately.  In some courts, Maryland for example, you can fax documents to the other side, but you must also mail them, or it is invalid.  In D.C. faxing documents is not a problem and you don’t have to mail them.  In Virginia, if the lawyer puts his fax number on the pleadings he is consenting to service by fax and you don’t have to mail them.  That’s why many Virginia lawyers do not put their fax number on their pleadings.  I do, but I’ve been getting so many junk faxes that I make people call me first so I can turn on the fax machine for them.  (But I successfully objected last year when some smart guy tried to fax me 2 70 PAGE documents.  On a Friday evening to boot.)  In Federal court, documents are sent by email routinely and if you do not accept emailed documents the judges will be upset.

Me?  I prefer email but will cooperate as much as I can.  But I do email and fax and mail the same documents on a regular basis.  Frankly, I prefer to email and mail only but ….

So why do lawyers fight about it?  Sometimes it’s because they are trying to get a strategic advantage.  For example, under the Rules, you get (usually 3-5 days) extra time if the papers are mailed as opposed to being hand-delivered, emailed or faxed.  So they want the extra time.  Other times, they want to set the table to argue that your Motion is late and therefore they don’t have to respond and the Court should ignore it.

One not-so-amusing anecdote illustrating the problem:  In Fairfax, Virginia, we needed a local rule that all Motions and Oppositions etc. that were faxed out had to be delivered before 4:00 p.m. on Friday.  We did that because papers that were due on Friday were being faxed out at 11:00 p.m. Friday night in an attempt to shorten the notice for opposing lawyers who wouldn’t see the papers until Monday a.m. and the hearing was for the next Friday.

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