Why are attorneys so paranoid?
Ernie the Attorney wrote a post about the difference between attorneys and computer programmers. It points out one of my pet peeves about attorneys, their intense paranoia:
Here are the conditionals: (1) the attorney's communication has to be 'written'; (2) and it has to contain tax advice; and (3) that advice has to be used, or possibly used, by the recipient to (a) avoid IRS penalties or (b) to promote some kind of tax-minimizing or tax-avoiding scheme.
Here's how a computer programmer would create an algorithm to determine when to use boilerplate:
1. Does the email contain any tax advice?
2. Is it possible the tax advice will be used by the recipient to avoid IRS penalties or to promote a tax avoiding scheme?
OUTCOME: if answer to both (1) and (2) is YES, then insert boilerplate
And here's how a typical attorney would map it out:
1. Am I sending an email to someone else?
OUTCOME: if answer to (1) is YES, then insert boilerplate.
So if you get an email from an attorney that has no discussion of tax issues, but which nevertheless contains the boilerplate, you'll now be able understand the logic. Now, close your eyes, bow your head, and give thanks that attorneys don't design software.