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It is a given: Most lawyers keep in close contact with the office when they are on the road. But there is a difference between being wired and being hog-tied. How can you offer access to colleagues and clients, yet maintain some space for a private life? Some argue for speedy response times, and equate access with productivity. They check e-mail obsessively; consider drive time as cell phone time; and tap out Blackberry messages to colleagues and outside counsel from taxis, airports, and courtrooms. Others keep a moat around them: They rely on support staff to buffer them from colleagues and clients. Productivity, they insist, revolves around controlling time and access. Which approach suits you best is not only a matter of personal style, but of law firm, corporate or client culture. But here are some wildly different ways lawyers are coping with the communications age: 1. Use your cell phone as your primary mode of communication. Mark Chandler, senior director, worldwide legal services for San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems, said he believes in extreme access. Not coincidentally, Cisco makes devices that form the nuts and bolts of the Internet. “My business card has my pager, my cell phone, my office phone, and my e-mail. And I’ll give my home phone number to anyone who asks.” Theda Snyder, an in-house insurance lawyer in Southern California — who insisted she is “not so high-tech” — said she uses “just a cell phone as my principal lifeline.” She admitted to owning a Palm organizer, “but it is not critical” to her practice. Another cell phone addict is David Bilinsky, practice management adviser and staff lawyer of the Law Society of British Columbia. “I have a Sony cell phone that is on 24/7,” he said. Bilinsky said he also takes full advantage of the voicemail attached to both his cell phone and his home office. “People in my own office have said that they are often unaware when I am traveling or in the office.” 2. Do not give out your cell phone number. Another school of thought: Use e-mail as your primary means of communication. This group’s mantra: “Just say no.” Refuse to give your cell phone number to anyone other than your inner circle (family, close friends, boss, secretary/assistant). Bruce Dorner, a New Hampshire sole practitioner, said he lets his staff run interference for him. “I generally don’t give anything other than my e-mail address to clients, and trust that my staff will deal with most emergencies and call/page/e-mail me when it’s appropriate.” But Dorner admitted that he is wired, wired, wired. “I worship at the Church of Perpetual Connection,” he joked. Dorner said he uses a Sprint PCS cell phone, and, when voice is not an option, a BellSouth two-way pager. “I love the ability to tap out a message on the pager — it’s far easier than on the phone keyboard.” The pager also offers fax message, e-mail and voice message capabilities, explained Dorner. Intellectual property lawyer Dan Coolidge, of Boston’s Fish & Richardson, said that he tells a little white lie to clients. “My cell phone is unlisted. I give it out to clients, but I tell them it’s in my car, and only when I am in the car will I hear it ring,” he confessed. (In fact, it is portable.) Coolidge’s cell phone voicemail message instructs callers not to leave a message on the cell phone, but directs them to call his office phone or to e-mail him instead. “I sometimes carry a pocket wireless e-mail device, but not always,” said Coolidge. “I only carry it when something is going on that I know is critical, and for which I am responsible. I do not tell clients I have it.” Companies sometimes limit cell phone access on a need-to-know basis. Stephen Jacobs, general counsel of American Lawyer Media, Inc. (the parent of Law Technology News and affiliate of law.com), said a limited number of AmLaw executives have a cell phone list. Anyone outside the inner circle is asked to leave a voicemail message on his office telephone. 3. Never give out your home phone. Here is a tip almost everyone would agree with: Set limits, and do not give out your home number. “I rarely give out my home phone number to clients, unless involved in a multinational transaction across faraway time zones,” said Coolidge. “I make it clear they are not to abuse the privilege, and have even ‘fired’ a client for repeatedly calling late at night and very early in the morning.” 4. Use your laptop wisely. Another option: Ditch the desktop computer and use a laptop computer everywhere — even at the office (they can be plugged into a “dataport” and used with full-sized monitors and keyboards). Set up a remote system that plugs right into your network. “When only the heavy artillery works, I carry my portable computer and extend my office umbilical cord to whatever hotel or location I’m using,” said Dorner. Bilinsky agreed: “I have an IBM laptop, with dial-in access to the mother ship, that travels with me everywhere. This gives me access to all my e-mail as well as the resources on the corporate network.” Bilinsky also said he carries a Palm organizer “to keep me on top of my appointments.” Bilinsky could have just put a calendar program on his laptop, but said he feels that sometimes it is just inconvenient to boot up a computer. 5. PDAs are OK. Other jet-setting lawyers have jettisoned laptops in favor of small (the size of a deck of cards) Internet-accessible “PDAs” (personal digital assistants), such as high-end Palm organizers and Research in Motion’s Blackberry devices. (Or they said they have added wireless modems from companies such as OmniSky to lower-end units; or bought souped-up cell phones.) Palm Inc.’s hand-held organizers still dominate the PDA market, and run from basic models in the $200 price range to Internet-accessible Palm VII units that cost just under $500. Handspring’s Visor line also operates on the Palm OS. If you are a Windows addict, Microsoft Corp. has revamped its CE hand-held operating system into “Pocket PC,” which generated new hand-helds from Hewlett-Packard’s Jornada 540 series; Casio’s Cassiopeia; and Compaq’s iPAQ and Aero lines. Then there is RIM’s popular Blackberry system — think of a pager on steroids. Users can get messages and e-mail, send faxes, and even type messages on a mini-keyboard that most lawyers use with their thumbs. Even cell phones have leapt into cyberspace — many new units from Ericsson, Nokia, Sprint, and other vendors now offer Internet access. So far, Web access by these PDAs and phones can be limited — some offer only pre-programmed Web access (to frequently used venues such as weather, stock market, and news sites) or “Web clipping” services; and some units’ Internet access is available only in major cities. And while some phones offer free access to the Internet, other plans get quite pricey quite quickly. But that has not stopped the major legal vendors from leaping aboard the wireless train. West Group has launched Westlaw Wireless, a service that allows users to access many of that company’s tools, including retrieving case information from Westlaw, KeyCite histories, and legal eBooks. Competitor Lexis-Nexis has launched lexisONE.com, a site that offers, among other things, information about mobile lawyering and wireless service providers. Despite the hype, some legal technologists say it is still an immature market. Said Jo Haraf, head of tech at San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster: “If you want a 24/7 wireless system in most U.S. locations today, go with Blackberry. It’s not perfect, but it’s darn close.” 6. Public phones? Use public phones? Sometimes being away from cell phones, wireless e-mail devices, and “smart” phones is not voluntary. Stephen Jacobs, for example, said he is deprived of his cell phone when he goes to court and has to check it at the door. “In those cases,” he said, “I carry around film canisters full of quarters.”

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