The Wall Street Journal edition for August 22, 2009 features a fine article by John Freeman which the author describes as a “manifesto for slow communication.” What made it all the more real was the experience of the past two days. The most memorable moments of that period were: (1) a colleague telling me that a client’s effort to start a new business was gravely set back by an errant “reply to all email” and (2) the experience of watching a family of six sit down to a Saturday night dinner in a local restaurant whereupon half the family immediately reached for their hand held devices.
I defer to Mr. Freeman:
“The ultimate form of progress… is learning to decide what is working and what is not; and working at this pace, emailing at this frantic rate is pleasing very few of us. It is encroaching on part of our lives that should be separate or sacred; altering our minds and our ability to know our world…”
While acknowledging that this new technology has its merit Freeman notes that for the first time since the Industrial Revolution the concept of time “away” from work has begun to steadily erode. In our new search to remain connected he notes that we now endure flotillas of unnecessary jabbering that makes it difficult to distinguish “signal from noise”.
The new phenomenon we experience today is what I will term “drive by lawyering.” With increasing frequency clients ask to skip coming in for a personal interview in favor of a phone call. Better yet, get an answer on the fly by email. These are indeed useful devices for both lawyers and clients but they are handled without perspective. The goal is to put your economic house in order or to formulate a new living arrangement with your children. This kind of goal is rarely advanced in increments of ten or twenty minute conversation let alone a five minute email exchange.
Your divorce involves your family and your money. Take the time to do your best to get it right and give your lawyer the tools and the time to do so.