Denver Bar Association
May 2009
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Res Ipsa Loquitur

H ave you ever had anything that really bothered you in the practice of law?

Do you wish you had a forum to rant about it, or just vent?

This month, The Docket institutes a new column to provide such a soapbox to stand on. Please submit your issues to Tara Miller at The Docket, [in care of the Denver Bar Association].

This month’s rant:

Back in January, we all received our electronic notification of the imminent arrival of our Colorado Supreme Court dues statement.

At first glance, sending the notice electronically made sense, as it saved on postage expense. (A side rant: On the other hand, the exclusive use of electronic mail will not only put the U.S. Postal Service out of business, but it will increase the need for attorneys to handle unemployment cases; but that is a rant for another column.)

Being able to pay online even made sense, as it provided ease for those who like to use such services, and may even be considered environmentally responsible by saving a few trees worth of paper.

HOWEVER, why do we have to pay $4.95 to Western Union? Who benefits here? I don’t benefit, because it costs me another $4.95 a year to practice law. The Supreme Court doesn’t benefit, because it still has to process all of the license renewals. Does any of this money go to improving the provision of legal services? I doubt it. Does it help provide legal services to the indigent? I don’t think so. Will it be used to assist with the efficient operation of the Colorado Courts. Don’t hold your breath. Does it help with the increase of legal education? Not!

There is no other option. You get no choice. Even if you use a debit card, or direct withdrawal, Western Union makes $4.95 on each transaction. Like many other attorneys, I prefer mailing checks. Furthermore, it helps bank and postal employees remain employed, which helps the economy. As far as I can tell, the Supreme Court will not even accept the legal currency of the United Sates, complete with pictures of former presidents. There is no way to continue practicing law in Colorado without paying $4.95 to Western Union.

Stop for a moment and think about that credit card processing company that had its security breached last summer? Will Western Union take responsibility when my credit card number is used to make purchases in a country I have never been to?

This is not de minimus. Based on my last perusal of the Colorado Legal Directory, there must be at least 22,000 attorneys paying this fee. (The attorney registration ID numbers are closing in on 40,000.) At that number, someone is making more than $100,000. That someone is Western Union. Because they are not a local company, it is unlikely even their in-house counsel benefits from this. Perhaps the courts of Delaware will benefit.

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