Blackberries Be Gone!

Slate's blog on legal issues.
April 11 2008 9:43 AM

Blackberries Be Gone!

Via the ABA Journal and Newsday , I learned today about a New York City-area law firm that has banned BlackBerry usage (and presumably that of other similar devices) by its attorneys and staff at major meetings.  Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone LLP made the move because it found people just weren't focusing on the subject at hand—they were too busy reading e-mail and thumbing out messages. Partner Ira Halperin told Newsday that "[w]e like everyone to be connected to clients and to be very responsive to their needs" but not at the expense of being BlackBerry-toting zombies who were unable to focus on anything other than their e-mail.

/blogs/convictions/2008/04/11/blackberries_be_gone/jcr:content/body/slate_image

In my practice, and my work in/around government, I've seen this problem too. Big time. I'm certainly guilty of excessive BlackBerry usage. I even have colleagues (including some at Slate ) who read their BlackBerries and thumb out messages while driving—a massive risk for them and for their companies, which may be held liable for anything that happens while they're reading/sending work e-mail. 

Advertisement

I'm curious what my Convictions colleagues think of this phenomenon. I think we've gone too far—and that the quality of our counsel actually suffers because we are moving too fast and responding too quickly. We need to slow down. But what do you think? Have BlackBerry devices really become Crack Berry devices—such that we're so addicted to e-mail that we can't do anything else? Should law firms take a Draconian approach like Meltzer, Lippe? Or should they try a softer touch?

Phillip Carter is an Iraq veteran who now directs the veterans research program at the Center for a New American Security.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.