Garbage in, garbage out
As a regular recipient of monetary proposals from Nigeria, offers of instant credit approval, and ads for physical, er, ‘enhancement’, Folklaw is well aware of the Inbox’s ability to attract the electronic equivalent of industrial waste. Not surprisingly, then, our interest was piqued by some apparently diligent research into how long lawyers spend taking out the garbage — and how much that time costs their firms.
California-based Edward Poll, on his blog (www.lawbizblog.com), reckons it’s a lot of moulah — US$80,000 to be precise.
“Based on personal experience, it is easy to estimate that most lawyers take about one or two hours each working day to ‘clear out’ their e-mail boxes,” he says in a special report. Based on a puny 200 work-day year, with two hours of cyber cleansing and a US$200 billable hour (even though most US attorneys charge more), that comes to a hefty US$80,000 of wasted billable time per year.
“Given the rapidity of response that e-mails encourage, it’s likely that very few lawyers are truly capturing the time that they’re spending on legitimate client communications, like phone conversations and e-mail communications,” Ed writes. “Yet lawyers are going so fast doing so many things, that they don’t actually write down their time notation as they’re working on e-mails.”
“Client e-mail gets so enmeshed in what has been called ‘administrivia’ that their importance is not adequately accounted for. The result is lost profitability.”
Not to mention, Folklaw suggests, lost time that could have been usefully employed in surfing the web for non work-related purposes.
Love website puts foot down
Folklaw has little tolerance — though tempered with a pinch of humour — for the over-litigious, ‘if it moves, you can sue it’ approach to litigation. We could, however, feel only sympathy for the US-based former Skadden Arps lawyer who has taken on an internet dating site after it refused to allow him to register because he was already married. According to our pals at Rollonfriday.com, the lovelorn legal eagle tracked down the eHarmony.com website in his search for some action and diligently filled out the online profile. This apparently took him a couple of hours, but no doubt he was also reading the site’s fine print, disclaimers, privacy info etc etc. After all, even regarding affairs of the heart lawyers are always lawyers, aren’t they?
Coming to the relationship status question, our friend (truthfully) ticked the “legally separated” box, anticipating that lurrv was now only a few mouse clicks away. But what do you know? Like a worried parent imposing a curfew on a hormone-fuelled 15 year-old, eHarmony told our unfortunately still hitched, but would-be Romeo, that it’s not going to happen until he is “free of relationship commitments”. (Hang on, isn’t that the girlfriend’s line anyway?)
While the site isn’t comfortable with the prospect of aiding and abetting an adulterous liaison, it nevertheless is quite happy for the lawyer to sign up once the spousal ties are severed. But that’s kind of missing the point and we applaud our friend’s decision to sue for discrimination on the basis of marital status.
Folklaw has dipped a toe into the world of internet dating, under a more personal guise of course — including, on one occasion, dinner with a top tier partner who had one or two unsavoury things to say about life at her firm — and thus appreciates the need not only to have your day in court, but also to have your day a courting.
Show me the money
And in another tale of amorous woe from Rollonfriday.com — or amour that seems to have gone off the rails in this case — a UK lawyer who has served more than 10 years of time for contempt of court has been sent back to the slammer after refusing to tell his ex-wife where he has stashed his money. The 68 year-old divorced his wife 11 years ago but wouldn’t tell the ex what had happened to a tidy little GBP1.4 million which she alleged was hidden in offshore bank accounts. One judge after another has found him guilty of contempt. But when you consider that at the most recent of these hearings, our man refused to say where he’d stashed the cash, allegedly declaring — and we quote — “I’d rather spend my life in jail than give that bitch a single penny”, you can understand where the judges are coming from.
The man’s own lawyer claims his client is neither insane nor eccentric (although, as Rollonfriday reports, if he’d simply stolen the cash he would only have got seven years anyway). Folklaw can’t help but wonder that if both he and the courts stick to their guns, then the man may be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for quite a while, perhaps even taking the location of the loot to his grave. We assume the wife was written out of his will sometime ago.