Many list owners spend hours creating rules for the conduct and operation of a mailing list. Lawyers are often the worst of the lot, drafting pages and pages of verbiage covering every exigency, narrowly defining a list’s mission and subscriber circle, detailing what may and may not be posted, dotting the landscape with more whereofs and heretofores and to-wits than a corporate merger and acquisition document. After agonizing over the rules, the list owner will automatically send out this finely tuned document to all new subscribers, expecting that they’ll hold it in as much regard as the Magna Carta. But does anyone really read and obey the rules of engagement?
One legal mailing list takes a simpler and probably just as effective route to describing the parameters of its list. The AmericanBarAssociationCenter on Children and the Law, which sponsors the Child-Case Discussion group, http://www.abanet.org/child/childcase.html, simply elicits a would-be subscriber’s name, telephone, address and e-mail online, in a click-through agreement that says:
I have read and agree to the CONDITIONS OF GROUP MEMBERSHIP below.
CONDITIONS OF GROUP MEMBERSHIP. The information shared within this discussion is provided by the participants, not by the ABA, and I understand and agree that the ABA is not responsible for the content of any such information. I am a licensed attorney or judge and I understand that this e-mail discussion group is open only to those licensed attorneys and judges who have enrolled and been approved for group membership. I will not allow others to participate in the group discussion and will not share messages outside this group without the express permission of the group manager. I will not provide information to this group in violation of attorney-client privilege or in violation of any federal, state, or local confidentiality laws. I understand that information shared within this group does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.
The agreement covers all the bases, neatly and succinctly. Why don’t more lists adopt this concept? If a click-through agreement is sufficient for users of new software to promise obedience, down to pledging all of their worldly possessions and first-born male children, isn’t a click-through good enough for a legal mailing list?