What the f@$ is happening here?

By: May 30, 2017

Since law firms still use fax machines, you'd better learn how to use one

fax machine

“Now for the big reveal,” says Josh Koziebrocki, founder of Koziebrocki Law, as he opens the door at the end of the first-floor hallway in his chambers. Inside the closet, a technological relic rests atop a shelf. Next to the printer sits a fax machine: the reason I’m here.

In Ontario, faxing court documents — from a statement of defence to a routine disclosure — is standard practice. And even though the underlying technology is 150 years old, #faxlife hasn’t left the building. So, you’re going to want to figure out how to use the thing before you start your summer job.

Erica Phillips, Koziebrocki’s assistant, agreed to show me how. I’m not serving anyone, but I did get my father’s fax number earlier. He’s the chair of student services at a high school in Thunder Bay and his office has a fax machine. “Hi Dad!” I write on a blank sheet of paper. “This is a test fax for a story I’m writing. Xo Steph.”

Phillips places the note into the machine and types in my dad’s number. She hits send. There’s a paper jam. We try again, and this time I type the number. But I forget to double-tap the “pause” button to indicate that I’m sending the fax long-distance.

The machine beeps rapidly and Phillips turns to me: “I think we might have to do this again.”

On the third try, we’re green-lighted. I get a printed out confirmation sheet to accompany my sense of accomplishment. “Sometimes you want to do a backflip when it goes through,” says Phillips.

When faxes do come in, Koziebrocki sees them electronically, devoid of the screeching banshee ringtone that’s historically in tandem with receiving one.

Because I have never heard the racket, Koziebrocki dials the fax number from his phone. “Watch this, it’ll blow your mind,” he says, putting the phone on speaker. We listen for a few seconds: it’s a terrible sound.

Since these clunky send-and-receive boxes still populate law offices despite the rest of the world seeming so high-tech obsessed, you’ve got to learn how to use one — and the rules that govern fax etiquette. You can’t, for example, serve a document of 16 or more pages — including the necessary cover page — between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. without consent from the receiver.

It’s one more skill that could help your career. In fact, the Law Society of Upper Canada still faxes. Right now, when someone wants to complain about a lawyer, she only has two options: snail mail or fax.

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