Many lawyers think that heavily trafficked listserves are just too burdensome to deal with. Subscribing to a digest or referring to a list’s web interface strikes them as just too clunky and ineffective. But there are some solutions:
- Don’t even think about reading every single post. Remember, almost no one reads The Wall Street Journal in its entirety. The days have long since passed when it was reasonably possible to read everything – much less all of your e-mail!
- Sort out posts topically, discarding those which aren’t relevant.
- Resist the compulsion to respond. Time constraints aside, drafting a well-reasoned response can be distracting. Realize that others may be just as likely to respond.
- Take the response private to avoid having to concentrate upon the niceties of crafting a response which may be read by several hundred other subscribers who may find your boring prose irrelevant and which may be preserved for longer than the Rosetta Stone.
- Remind yourself that time spent on listserves may serve important professional and networking goals, but it rarely leads to billable hours.
Marc S. Stern, a seasoned Seattle bankruptcy lawyer and a curmudgeon by his own admission, found responding to listserves occupied too much of the time he’d rather spend doing something else, and he decided to take some radical steps. He kept his presence known on general listserves by occasionally responding to general questions which could be answered in a sentence or two or a simple link, but he decided to meld an old-fashioned technique with electronic media. He started writing privately to a list poster, suggesting that he would be willing to discuss the problem by telephone. Doing so saved this lawyer the time of back-and-forth e-mail and permitted him to frankly discuss the subject matter. Not only was he able to network and share his expertise with others, some of his callers even offered to pay for his counsel.
Sometimes even the best of us just get tired of typing!