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Somewhere, some people are buying Viagra online, lowering mortgage rates and enlarging various body parts. The rest of us � including lawyers � are much more interested in blocking spam than using it. According to this year’s AmLaw Tech Survey, 92% of firms are already blocking spam, and the other 8% are probably about to join them. One of the few holdouts, Wiley, Rein & Fielding, has been making do with e-mail filters that Chief Information Officer Brett Don said basically screen for George Carlin’s famous “seven dirty words.” Don is currently shopping for other options, and is leaning toward outsourcing the job to a company such as MailMarshal (used by 4% of responding firms) or Postini (used by 20%). But he said that law firm attorneys, as tired of spam as they are, have important concerns: “They’re fearful that too much automation is going to affect client communications,” he said; an overly cautious blocker may strain out legitimate e-mail, including notes from clients. “What if they miss a deadline or some other important action item?” he asked. Chief information officers who have chosen wisely-products that avoid false positives and free up lawyers’ in-boxes-are, by and large, extraordinarily happy individuals. James Dobrzeniecki, chief information officer at Richmond, Va.’s McGuireWoods, calls Postini “the best thing that’s ever been created.” The happiest attorneys, he said, were those who have BlackBerrys set to vibrate with incoming mail. They had been getting buzzed up to 100 times a day, often during client meetings. Chief Information Officer Douglas Caddell of Foley & Lardner swears by Postini, which was installed seven months ago and allows attorneys to set their own screening level and check their spam folders, just to make sure that vital client e-mail didn’t get accidentally deleted. The cost? Approximately $50 per user per year. Most chief information officers said that the array of current options for blocking spam arrived just in time: Chief Technology Officer Don Jaycox at Palo Alto, Calif.’s Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich estimates that, since December, spam has increased 270%, while legitimate e-mail rose only 14%. He’s been pleased with Frontbridge, which costs the firm $36 per user per year. Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman decided to go with shareware SpamAssassin to install on the firm’s servers, and further subscribed to the free Internet service Open Relays, which sifts through e-mail before delivery to firm in-boxes. With those two systems in place, said Chief Information Officer Peter Durr, spam was reduced so quickly that, by the end of the first day, more than 10 attorneys had called him to thank him personally. And it didn’t cost the firm a dime.

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