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Are Faxes an Antiquated Annoyance?

Quite out of the blue, my fax machine rang the other day. Someone was sending me a facsimile.

I say “out of the blue”, because in my particular niche of law -- which is Legal Research and Drafting -- there is almost never any call for materials to be sent to me by fax.[1] Virtually all my communications with clients (who are fellow lawyers), arrive by e-mail or, less commonly, on a USB or via the cloud. Even the law books libraries will scan requested pages from books and send them in PDF format by email.

So the arrival of the fax was downright jarring, to be honest.

My ears pricked up, and upon hearing the machine start receiving the transmission my first thoughts, in quick succession, were as follow:

1) “A fax? When was the last time I received a fax?”;

2) “Who on earth still uses faxes to communicate?”; and

3) “I wonder if there’s even paper and toner in there.”

My curiosity piqued, I went over to the machine and (after dusting it off), removed what turned out to be a poorly-designed mass advertisement (in Courier font!), likely sent by an automatic dialer, for a product I’ve never heard of, and surely won’t be buying.

That curiosity quickly turned to annoyance, because I was now left to dispose of the unwanted sheet of the paper I had purchased myself, and which was now rendered besmirched and unusable through no fault or desire of my own. It had been rendered so by a band of faceless usurpers, through their unilateral appropriation of hard-to-source toner, part of a fast-diminishing stockpile for a model of fax machine I’m confident they no longer manufacture.

I briefly toyed with the idea of calling the National Do Not Call List, to block the culprits from future encroachments of this nature, but I quickly realized that the sender’s phone number was deliberately concealed, and made even more illegible by my arid toner cartridge, now having its “last hurrah” on this lonely sheet.

I recycled the page, and came away feeling nothing but perturbed. And certainly not in the mood to buy – or even read about -- whatever product or service was being advertised and then indiscriminately faxed willy-nilly in my general direction.

In this era of the “paperless office”, and in an age of widespread digital transmission of information, I have to ask:

In the annals of obsolescent technology, has the fax machine become the next a law office “dinosaur”, right next to the Dictaphone and the typewriter?

[1] Although I’m aware that this is not the situation for some of my colleagues who practice in areas such as Real Estate.

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