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What is the greatest threat to the American economy? It’s e-mail, of course — but not the anonymous spam from pornographers or con artists. The most insidious threat to U.S. productivity — which declined this past quarter for the first time in six years — is the proliferation of group-list messages. Unless you vigilantly delete, this electronic kudzu clogs your in-box, obscuring the few messages that actually matter. This technological curse is particularly nettlesome at large law firms, many of which maintain lengthy group lists (e.g., “all D.C. associates” or “all attorneys”). With a few keystrokes, even the most technophobic senior partner can bombard hundreds of people with irrelevant information. Here are a few examples of the excess: To: All attorneys From: hstanley I’m looking for a patent specialist who is licensed to practice in Bangladesh and can help with a thorny estate law problem involving a fertile octogenarian. By the way, the client speaks only Swahili and wants the firm to handle his case on a contingency fee basis. To: All attorneys From: flbailey I have received a pleading from an attorney named Johnnie Cochran. Does anyone know anything about him? To: Everyone From: gsteinbrenner Before he was hanged, Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale declared, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” With that same spirit of sacrifice, our softball team prevailed last night, 12-11, over the limeys from Blood, Sweat & Tears. Beth “She Must Be Related to Pedro” Martinez was overpowering on the mound with seven strikeouts. Summer associate “Dress-Shoeless Joe” Jackson no doubt secured an offer when he hit a grand slam. Kudos to Winston “Iron Man” Smith, who took 1.6 hours off from his quest for 3,000 billables to play third base. Finally, hats off to the “Sultan of Stamps” from the mailroom who drove home the winning run. Next week, we take on the overpaid drones at Leviathan & Watkins. To: All attorneys From: Marketing Here’s the practice development tip of the day, No. 222 in our series: “Think and plan before the competition does. When you’re ahead, accelerate; don’t wait. When you’re behind and the competitor has the advantage, slow things down. Find ways to be creative, innovative, and memorable.” To: All attorneys From: gshepherd The next meeting of the summer program committee will be today at 4 p.m. Given the economic downturn, we will be discussing how to make our program more cost-effective. Instead of renting a hangar at Reagan National Airport for our traditional “Summer Soiree,” we plan to order pizza. Let me know if you have any two-for-one coupons. To: Everyone From: Library The books “How to Fire Employees Without Getting Sued” and “Law of Wrongful Termination” are missing. If you locate them, please forward to the executive committee. To: All associates From: sbattier Go Duke Blue Devils!! Reply to: All associates From: lolson Go Arizona Wildcats!! Reply to: All associates From: cdarrow Go Banana Slugs!! Reply to: All associates From: wjbryan What pray tell are banana slugs? Reply to: All associates From: cdarrow You ignoramus. Banana Slugs are the mascot of my alma mater, the University of California at Santa Cruz. It’s a far better name than your Tufts U Jumbos, which we all loath. Reply to: All associates From: wsafire I couldn’t help but notice the glaring error in the last message. “Loath” is an adjective synonymous with “unwilling” or “reluctant,” whereas “loathe” is a verb used to convey that you feel hate or strong dislike. To: Everyone From: tsoprano Just a reminder that I will be collecting checks tomorrow from those who agreed to sponsor me in the 9th Annual “Sharks in the Tank: Lawyers’ Bar Crawl.” It’s a good cause, and I know where you work. To: All attorneys From: Executive Committee The firm has adopted a new compensation system for associates, effective Oct. 1. To ensure that those who contribute the most are rewarded accordingly, we will replace our lockstep system with a six-tier structure modeled after British prep schools. First- and second-year associates will begin in Group F; third- and fourth-years start in Group E; and so on. You must spend at least two years in a group before seeking advancement. Group members will be paid the same, regardless of their graduation year. To discourage bill padding, the firm will no longer pay automatic “sweat” bonuses for exceeding the required 2,100 hours. A few discretionary bonuses may be awarded on a case-by-case basis. Advancement to the next group will not be automatic. To be considered, you must obtain letters of recommendation from 15 percent of the partnership, prepare a 50-page self-critique, and submit to grilling by the firm’s Tribal Council, which must approve promotions unanimously. These changes will bring us in line with other top firms and allow us to build on our past success. To: All associates From: cthomas Click on this attachment to see hot photos of Justice O’Connor! To: Everyone From: System Administrator VIRUS WARNING. Do not open any e-mail attachments that pertain to Justice O’Connor. You may unleash a pernicious virus that has been spreading across the country. The so-called “Swing Vote” virus is quite unusual; on most days, it infects only Republican-leaning law firms, but sometimes it ravages traditionally Democratic firms. To: All attorneys From: Accounting We have received a check for $74 billion from the Philip Morris Co.s Can someone tell me what client/matter this is related to? To: All attorneys From: bnoser Does anyone have a copy of the U.S. Supreme Court rules? I’m drafting a cert petition for our new client, ExxonMobil. To: Everyone From: mmagoo I misplaced my glasses in one of the conference rooms on the 16th floor in the New York office. Please contact my secretary if you find them. To: All attorneys From: hgrant I have a very important client who needs a criminal defense attorney ASAP to handle a matter involving alleged solicitation of prostitution from an undercover policewoman. My client was merely asking the young lady for directions and has been railroaded by overzealous law enforcement. Your utmost discretion is appreciated. (Please e-mail any response since I may be out of the office for a while … on this client matter.) To: All associates From: Marketing As you know, both Heller Ehrman and Brobeck reaped tremendous publicity when their associates appeared on “Survivor.” Imagine how our firm would benefit if one of our young lawyers were chosen for next season’s show in Africa. If you’re cunning, resourceful, and driven enough (and want to reduce your billable requirements), let us know. To: Everyone From: D.C. Social Committee You are cordially invited to the “Disco Inferno” happy hour in the 10th floor conference room on Friday. For a preview, click on this attached sound file to hear Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” Reply to: Everyone From: jtravolta I’ll bring my disco ball if you’ll play the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive.” Reply to: Everyone From: ssledge And no disco party would be complete without “We are Family.” Reply to: Everyone From: cdegaulle Bonjour, the Paris office would love to attend, but alas, our Concorde is grounded. C’est la vie. To: Everyone From: System Administrator Earlier today, everyone at the firm witnessed an exchange of firmwide e-mails that crashed our system for several hours. Please remember that a single e-mail sent to “Everyone” is seen by more than 1,500 people and generates more than 1,500 messages that must be processed by the firm’s e-mail servers. Today’s string of “disco” messages generated more than 30,000 e-mails that overwhelmed these servers. Please use good judgment when sending group-list messages. To: All partners From: yfurst It’s 11 p.m. and I wanted to let you know that I’m still working on that memo on personal jurisdiction that you assigned me today. To: All partners From: yfurst Oops. I didn’t mean to send that last message to everyone. Anyway, that memo will be on your desk when you arrive in the morning. To: All partners From: yfurst It’s 3 a.m., and I’m leaving the office now. Nothing like an honest day’s work. Good night. Ted Allen is a legal news editor with Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C. “Every 6 Minutes” is published regularly in Legal Times. He can be reached at [email protected]

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