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Smartphone Explosion a Tough Cell

by Ed Poll

Today's lawyer has cell phone in hand, for talking and much more. Most of us have been in meetings in which attorneys with smartphones are moving their thumbs as they text, surf or otherwise exist on another planet while the conversation takes place around them.

I'm convinced that such lawyers are missing far more than they realize as the live dialogue proceeds.

There are recent court decisions in which cell phone users and their firms face potential legal liability, such as when an attorney making a business call while driving has an accident. Many states now have laws against texting while driving or using a handset while driving. Lawyers who think they are above that aspect of the law may find that if they have an accident, both they and their firms face major consequences.

Lost in such major concerns is the extent to which so many people accept cell phone use as a natural extension of themselves — and inflict it on everybody around them. Not long ago the cell phone itself was a rare marvel of technology. Now smartphones users are so absorbed with the app technology that they become oblivious to all else, including those times when they are actually talking on the devices.

It creates a level of irritation and rude behavior that is becoming impossible to ignore. In the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta "The Mikado," the Lord High Executioner sings: "I've got a little list of society offenders who would never be missed!" Here, mixing the tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious, are some of the cell phone offenders who are on my list:

  • people who find it impossible to keep their voices down, assuming they need to be heard in China;

  • people sharing half their life stories in an elevator or a crowded vehicle, completely unaware that others don't care about all the "fascinating" details;

  • people who walk and talk, and not only miss smelling the roses, but fail to avoid walking into others;

  • people who are incapable of keeping their ring tones off — having their phones on vibrate would be easier on everyone around them (and would give them a feel-good experience);

  • people who insist on talking and driving, oblivious to the fact that the life or limb they could save by not doing so is theirs, or mine;

  • people who believe that their current phone conversation is more important than ordering their meal in a restaurant, whether at the table or in the fast food line, when they keep the waitperson from moving on and doing his job or simply tick everyone off and risk a mini-riot;

  • people who risk passing on to their children gene mutations leading to a generation with hunched necks, crooked arms and enlarged thumbs from chronic cell phone use;

  • people who think their Bluetooth earpieces make them look technically savvy, while in fact they appear to be straight out of an old "Star Trek" episode.

You may have your own little list. If so, please don't call me on your cell phone to share it.

Copyright 2011. Edward Poll. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Edward Poll.

About The Author

Ed Poll principal of LawBiz Management Company, is a nationally recognized coach, law firm management consultant, and author who has coached and consulted with lawyers and law firms in strategic planning, profitability analysis, and practice development. Mr. Poll has practiced law on all sides of the table for 25 years-- as a corporate general counsel, government prosecutor, sole practitioner, partner, and law firm chief operating officer and been a consultant to small and large law firms for 20 years.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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