Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An apology to our readers with mental health issues and a brief discusion regarding boiler parts...

I guess our post from last friday where we discussed the Department of Justice looking for attorneys with mental health issues was in poor taste.  I apologize for suggesting that our readers with mental health issues may want to contact the DOJ to possibly fill one of the ten positions that were available, as a matter of fact I apologize to all our readers for simply suggesting that any of them pursue a career in the legal profession period!  YUCK!


So what was the point of last fridays post?   Was it simply a cheap shot at people with mental disabilities?  A chance to make fun of the DOJ making a silly error in a job posting?  NO SIR!  What we illustrated in last fridays post was a common error that's made with BOILERPLATE documents.  So what does the term "Boilerplate" mean?  Let's look:
The term "boilerplate" has been adopted by lawyers to describe those parts of a contract that are considered "standard language"
In other words, the standard legal mumbo jumbo that virtually no one reads.  In the case of the DOJ job posting, someone took a standard Boilerplate form and cut and pasted the specific requirements for the job up top and left the bottom unchanged, in this instance no one took the time to read the "boilerplate" instructions at the bottom of the page that stated that they were looking for people with the targeted disabilities that we got such a laugh out of.  Does it make sense now?

There's a problem with legal boilerplate though, these documents are rarely read because of their complicated legal terms coupled with the often large amount of time needed to read the terms, the expected payoff from reading the document is low and few people would be expected to read it.  Often times people pay attention to the salient parts of such a document and skip over the fine print, it's because of this that many courts have developed special rules with respect to boilerplate documents since it's unclear whether the signor to the document read or understood the terms.  It's precisely because of this that the specific terms or instructions of such documents are clear and up front while the rest of the terms that are in fine print are more of a legal catch all, a CYA that literally no one reads.

So why the soliloquy on boilerplate documents?  Can you imagine someone building an entire criminal case on the boilerplate language in a legal document?  Consider for a moment a mentally disabled attorney (HAH!) suing the DOJ over the mistake in that job posting?  Or imagine an entire criminal prosecution based on such a document?  Absurd isn't it?  Can you guess where we're going folks?

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