By Douglas J. Brocker, Chair of the WCBA/Tenth JD Professionalism Committee, The Brocker Law Firm, P.A.
Modern communication technology
enables lawyers to accomplish things in a much more timely, efficient and
effective manner in many instances.
Utilized properly, digital communications also can assist a lawyer or
law firm in reducing overhead and providing representation to clients more
economically. E-mails and other
electronic medium allow lawyers and law firms to operate in ways that would not
have been imaginable less than a decade ago.
However, use of these relatively
new communication mediums can become as addictive as some substances and their overuse
can cause a myriad professional and personal problems and issues. As lawyers, we all have times where it seems
that there is no possible way we can accomplish everything in the limited time
given. It is during those times that we
run the greatest risk of overusing or misusing electronic communications.
I am constantly reminded of the
importance of disconnecting from them on occasion for both personal and
professional reasons. One recent
experience reinforced the importance of disconnecting. The Wake County Bar Association had the
privilege of having one of the Fourth Circuit judges from North Carolina speak
at a recent monthly luncheon. During a
fascinating speech from one of the most interesting and accomplished persons in
the State, I looked around the room and repeatedly saw fellow attorneys using
their phones to read and respond to emails and texts, browse, among other
things. I was hoping that our speaker
was looking from a different perspective and did not observe what I saw.
I completely understand the
temptation during a busy time to catch up on a few emails or deal with some
other pressing matters. I'm confident
that I have been guilty of doing so in the past. However, as a past president of the
organization, I was dismayed that our esteemed speaker might be observing the
same thing I was and believing that our local Bar members were not interested
in her very insightful remarks.
We all have been involved in
situations where we are talking or meeting with somebody in person and they
interrupt the personal conversation to take a phone call or respond to an
e-mail or text. When you are on the
receiving end of this behavior, it unmistakably projects the impression that
your discussions, and by extension you, are not important. Although that
probably was not the intent, it leaves a very bad impression.
They are many important reasons, in my opinion,
that all of us should disconnect at times.
When attending a speech or in meeting with a client, witness or other
person, in my opinion, it's simply a matter of professionalism and good form to
turn off your own phone and focus on the matter at hand. If you are truly that busy, you should
probably not attend or reschedule. In
these types of situations, disconnect; it’s a matter of professionalism and respect.