E-mail to Mike Hagburg:
I have reviewed your memo on the Rule 11 issue.
I am concerned that an important point may have been missed. The focus of your memo appears to be whether a representative can sign for the attorney, as if the representative is placing his or her signature on the document. In my view, when my secretary at my specific direction signs a document using my name and placing her initials next to "my" signature, that under the cases I provided to you such a signature acts as my signature and constitutes for purposes of Rule 11 my actual signature.
As you know, many attorneys practice by themselves and are sometimes out of the office; there are also very short deadlines in some matters. Where I specifically instruct my secretary to sign my name and put her initials next to my signature it is clear that she has signed for me at my direction and as a matter of agency (and Rule case law) that signature is considered my own.
One judge mentioned that all I would have to do is scan in my signature into my computer and have my secretary insert it on the document. Other attorneys simply use a stamp. I am unsure whether your memo addresses these realities. Also, am I in any way misrepresenting that I personally signed the document if my secretary (while I'm out of town) inserts my scanned signature?
Finally, the signature is clearly (on its face when signed) adopted by me and my secretary is provided authority to do so, then why isn't that signature considered as a matter of law to be my signature? And what if I break my right hand skiing this winter? Would my signature being placed on the document by my secretary with indication of that fact by her initials be invalid?
The language I would suggest (in the notes) is simple:
"Where attorneys use office staff to sign documents (followed by the staff person's initials), an office stamp of the attorney's signature, or a computer generated "signature" such signature is considered valid under Rule 11 and such attorney is bound by the requirements of the Rule."
We could also add the following language in the notes:
"If the Court or any attorney requests confirmation from the attorney that the signature is adopted by that attorney, the attorney shall confirm that adoption in writing to the Court or other attorney within ten days of any such request."
I believe this would resolve the problem presented.
Thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the committee.