492 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 80 PART 4 JULY 2022
These functions do not appear to cope well with the names of members
of our profession, doubling or subtracting consonants, adding an “s” here
and there, or transforming the meaning of words entirely. Though for an
English-oriented system, this name above all should be easily coped with,
for some reason the lovely name “Victoria” has proven especially challenging.
We know of at least one ominous e-mail from a senior litigator to an
associate named Victoria that inadvertently ended up being addressed to
“Victim”. This said, we also know of a much more promising and propitious
e-mail from a client to the same associate, directed to “Victory”. Autocorrect
has created issues with the resplendent “Rebecca” as well. One of our colleagues
has had it change “Best regards, Rebecca” to the rather disconcerting
“Best regards, Reject”.
Perhaps even more oddly, albeit starting from a more challenging base,
“Turriff” (the last name of the late and much-missed Gordon Turriff, Q.C.,
who was a frequent contributor to the Advocate) became “stirring” (as was
his prose, of course). This is as in—to let you in on the snazzy repartee that
characterizes the e-mail exchanges among the Advocate’s editorial “staff”—
“I wondered if stirring should be a Legal Anecdotes again”.
Other icons of the legal profession, this time fictional, have also suffered
a sorry fate at the mercy of autocorrect. In our experience, “Rumpole” has
become “Rum poke”, which seems to be a type of cake.
Descriptions of status and function have encountered difficulties as well.
We have heard of one typed Wills and Estates exam where one exam-taker’s
intended reference to “executor” became a reference to “executioner”,
which changed—somewhat troublingly—the meaning conveyed. And perhaps
as a gentle nudge from autocorrect in the text of an e-mail for how to
better direct one’s outgoing e-mails, a direction to “reply to all” became
“reply to ally”.
We cannot leave this topic without a nod to older spell check stories on
the internet, including the tale of the term sua sponte (on its own motion)
in one U.S. court brief being replaced by “sea sponge” (“It is well settled that
a trial court must instruct sea sponge on any defense, including a mistake
of fact defense”).5 There is also the story of one polite young lawyer’s
attempt to apologize to the client for any “inconvenience” caused by delay
turning into “I apologize if this causes you any incontinence”.6
Names of firms have not been immune from glitches, though in the case
below stemming from human-initiated “search and replace” rather than the
computer behaving sua sponte. Some of you may recall that Farris LLP was
formerly known as Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy (the last names of certain
prominent partners). A solicitor did a global “search and replace” of