You know how sometimes you just want to write a letter to your friend and explain how you are totally best friends for life and your friend is the bestest most genius person around? OK, you probably never want to do that, because that is generally not a thing that grown people do, particularly with colleagues. Not so for former Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Randall Rader, who sent a note to his bestie Edward Reines – a patent lawyer who just happens to appear often before Rader’s court.
How many ways does this judge-to-lawyer email get weird? The habit of CAPITALIZING random words to indicate EXCITEMENT? The hoary old chestnut of saying “NOT” to indicate you’re joking? The unreasonably amount of exclamation points? The fact that he signed it “your friend for life,” which is a habit one should really grow out of by, say, age 16 or so? The “please pass this along to all your friends” bit at the end?
Yeah, it’s that last part that is apparently the problem. Reines sent it to oodles of clients as an endorsement of his super rad-ness and because of that Rader ended up stepping down from the Chief Judge slot and Reines got reprimanded for the overshare under the rule that bars attorneys from saying or implying they could influence a government official.
Now, this is not a place for a thoughtful discussion on whether such a thing is appropriate or ethical or all those things. (If you’re looking for that, you’re definitely on the wrong blog and you should hop over to Socially Awkward Law, which has a good take on whether Reines should have been reprimanded.) This is a place to remind you that when you write emails like this, you are bad and you should feel bad. If you’re trying to sing someone’s praises, you are a member of a profession that relies upon the written word, and surely you can do better than this breathless missive. Bryan Garner probably has a guide on how to write a love note or something somewhere, doesn’t he?
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