Electronic Correspondence

With apologies to the U.S. Postal Service, I just took another step towards¬†electronic-only correspondence: for the first time, I sent out information to mediation parties solely via email. Until now*, I have always followed up the email and attachments with a printed paper version sent via U.S. mail. This time, with the attorneys’ consent, I skipped the paper step. It seems now like the only¬† mailed-in-an-envelope items are checks, and documents with a signature — and these too are becoming ever less dependent on paper and “snail mail.”

*Well, at least the last fifteen years or so. I’ve been doing this long enough to admit to remembering well the days when all business correspondence was only via U.S.-mailed paper.

In fact, the role of a handwritten-in-ink signature is changing. It used to be essential for all kinds of official documents, including the agreement to mediate, and the resulting mediation agreement. But we all seem to accept documents transmitted electronically that either do not have a hand-written signature, or have an electronic signature, which doesn’t really convey the same meaning as a handwritten-in-ink signature, but is acceptable nonetheless. I wonder how mediation agreements will be formalized ten years from now; will parties still sign a sheet of paper with the flourish of an ink pen? Or will there be a new electronic way to signify individual consent?

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