Let’s Talk: Fax vs. Email

I started working in a law office about six months ago and for the last five of them I’ve had one unanswered question driving me completely insane:

Why do people still fax when they can email?

For those of you in the blogosphere too young to remember, a fax machine is kind of like a copy machine that sends the duplicate to someone else…through your phone line. It scans the image, sends it into the digital stratosphere, and then prints out in their fax machine on the other end. Or at least this is how it works in theory; they can be a bit finicky sometimes.

In comparison, email is much easier. You type up the documents you want, save them, then attach them to an email, type in the address of the person you want to send it to, and then mail it away in seconds. So not only does it get to them faster, but it also significantly reduces the amount of paper involved – there are approximately zero print outs instead of the two copies required to send a fax.

I get emails all day at work, even from other people with whom I share an office. This is because it creates a “paper” trail of communications that I can then refer back to instead of trying to recall an exact verbal conversation (not that I don’t have plenty of those, too). Email is eco-friendly and instantaneous; it performs an absolutely identical function to sending a fax, only faster and more efficiently.

So why can’t I send emails to other attorneys outside of my firm? If every bit of letterhead now comes equipped with a handy email tagline, why can’t I use it? Why must I go through the formal process of sending them documents and letters by fax or snail mail when I know they’ll get there much quicker, and in better quality, if I send them digitally?

If one of my readers out there knows the answer to this question, I would greatly appreciate some insight. Its driving me nuts because it takes days to get responses from “formal” fax (or snail mail) requests that could otherwise have been done in minutes via email. So let me know in the comments: Why do people still fax when they can email?

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