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My Blackberry, or should I say my Crackberry (“CB” to my thumb-sore colleagues), goes off at all hours of the night and early morning. How do I know this? Because I keep it on my bedside table while I sleep. Yes, yes, I know this is indeed my fault. I use CB as my primary phone and as my alarm clock, which doesn’t help me avoid indulging that sick temptation to see who has emailed at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. And why do I do this? Because, sometimes I’ll respond just to show the sender that I too am still “up and working” at 3 a.m. It’s always nice when you’re toiling away at some unspeakable hour to send out an e-mail and get back a response from someone else out there suffering just as much as you are. Thus, I tend to indulge my late working colleagues with some form of response when I can. Last Saturday, around 7 a.m. CB went off. It was an e-mail from a client who’d been on vacation was returning emails. While it isn’t normal for me to be up so early on Saturday morning, my fiance and I had plans, so I was getting ready when CB went off. I responded and she e-mailed me back telling me that I was “too connected,” suggesting that I “turn CB off and enjoy the weekend.” (She is now my non-lawyer fiance’s favorite client.) I wasn’t quite sure how to reply other than to say thanks and to tell her to have a good weekend. Nevertheless, her email inspired me. For the first time ever, I left CB at home. I figured it was okay. After hearing the old “but it’s my cell phone too” ruse one too many times, my fiance wised up and bought me a cell phone so that I could go out and not have to take my CB with me. However, my phone is basically useless because only my fiance, who I was with, and my parents have the number and only their numbers are programmed into the address book. And, since carrying around all this technology has wiped away the area of my brain that I used to remember phone numbers with, I couldn’t call anyone even if I wanted to.Despite that, I functioned quite fine on my first CB-less day for almost a year and a half. The urge to check my messages or to use my thumbs to write lengthy messages never rose up and overcame me. I was surprised. I’d expected to have withdrawal symptoms akin to the C in CB. So are we young associates too connected? Twenty years ago, before the cell phone and CB boom, the partners we now work for weren’t on call all hours of the night and day. When they left the office, for the most part they were done with work. Now we have cell phones, CB’s or other PDA devices, as well as laptops with wireless remote that allow us to be constantly connected to work, not to mention email and the internet–the idea of practicing as a lawyer without email, voicemail or the internet is completely unfathomable to me now. While these innovations and devices can be a blessing in many situations–they allow us to not constantly be tied to our offices while waiting on a call or for a document to be emailed–these technologies also force us to make conscious decisions to disconnect from work and not be accessible even though our technology allows us to be. It is this decision, to disconnect, to turn off our “electronic leashes” when we are not working, that I believe we as young associates find very difficult to make. I don’t think that partners or even our clients expect us to be at their beck and call all hours of the night and weekends. At least most of them don’t. I think this is a cross we choose to bear as opposed to one that was forced upon us. So I challenge all of you out there who are never more than an arm’s length away from your CB or some other form of electronic leash, to turn it off and disconnect when you are able. It isn’t as hard as you may think. Most of the time email can wait until you clock back in. Give yourself a break, especially as summer starts to draw to a close. Our clients and colleagues don’t expect an immediate response from us all the time. We as a whole, the young lawyers aspiring to become partners someday, need learn that technology is there to assist us not enslave us. It’s as easy as pushing a button. The next time you’re sleeping or having dinner and your CB goes off, instead of giving in to the temptation to read it, turn the power off instead and enjoy your time. Take the C out of CB!

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