When I’d been in practice for maybe three months, I covered a court hearing for another lawyer in my firm. One of the issues was whether the opposing counsel had received a notice letter, which my colleague had sent to him.
In our firm’s file was a yellow tissue copy of the notice letter. It had been sent by certified mail; the signed green-card receipt was stapled to it.
I showed the letter and the signed receipt to the judge. The opposing counsel said, “Yes, Your Honor, that’s my secretary’s signature on the green card. But it must have been for some other communication, because I never got THAT letter.”
I was convinced the opposing counsel was lying. I think the judge was suspicious, too. But he gave the opposing counsel the benefit of the doubt. (Several years later, I took a certain grim satisfaction in learning that the opposing counsel had been disbarred, for unrelated misconduct.)
Lesson: When sending a formal notice letter by hard copy:
1. Send it by certified mail or FedEx, or via some other service with trackable delivery; and
2. When typing the notice letter, include the certified-mail green card serial number or the FedEx airbill serial number above the inside address. EXAMPLE:
CERTIFIED MAIL NO. 12345-6890
Mr. John Doe
123 Main Street
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. Doe:
Lorum ipsum …
Very truly yours, etc.