Monday, May 11, 2009

Lawyer Etiquette: Is Your Blackberry Use Hurting your Reputation?

PASADENA, CA - MAY 04:  A Blackberry Curve 831...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I attended a meeting of lawyers this month, and when about 5-6 of us were sitting together talking shop, one member of the group brought up a good subject. As we talked, that same person started typing away on his Blackberry. He was so distracted, he missed two questions posed to him. I was to be candid appalled. It was rude and insensitive. I didn't know this person very well, but I will remember him now for that mistake.

I went searching on the web for a quick list of suggestions that I lawyers could read to help them when using a Blackberry, since at least 50% of its users forget basic courtesies:

From the Legalease Blog:

1. If you are attending an event, meal, meeting or presentation, turn off your electronic devices. If you put MUST keep them on, turn them to silent or vibrate, do not place them on the table so that the vibration disturbs those around you;

2. If you are awaiting an important call or email, consider not attending the event so that you can attend to your important business;

3. If it is imperative that you attend the event, be sure that you keep your focus or attention on the event. Advise your companions at the outset that you are waiting for an urgent call, and sit near the door. Leave the room or the table discreetly if you absolutely MUST check your email or voice mail or return a call or email;

4. Remember that those around you are forming an impression of you AT ALL TIMES; if you are with a client and are checking your BlackBerry, reading emails, surfing the web, the client is going to think that you don't care about them and that they are not important to you;

5. Be aware that if you are replying to important emails while at dinner, a networking event or another meeting, you are not presenting your best self either at the event or in the email. Not only are you unable to devote your complete attention to the event and the people you are with, but you are also unable to devote your full attention to the email message. You may be making a poor impression on two groups of people at the same time.

6. Even if your device is under the table or you think you are being discreet others in the room are well aware of what you are doing. Regardless of what you think, you are NOT getting away with it!

7. The smaller the meeting, the more noticeable your behavior. But even in large meetings, be mindful of those around you, since they will certainly be aware of your behavior, so if your boss or an important client or colleague is sitting near you, refrain from checking your BlackBerry. And if the presenter, meeting facilitator or your boss is standing, seated on a dais or is behind you, they will be aware of your behavior even in a large room.

8. Reconsider your definition of what is an 'urgent' matter and what can wait. Think about your priorities, not just in the short term (answering this email immediately as opposed to 10 minutes from now), but also in the long term (if the client thinks I'm rude, I may lose the account).

There's more at the link above.

Take heed, lawyers!

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