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DTCI: Throw your cell phone into the spaghetti bowl

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dtci-strenksi-jamesAbout five years ago, my father-in-law (who my children affectionately call “Poppy”) got so fed up with his cell phone that he threw it into a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs that was sitting on the kitchen table. My children, who were young and impressionable at the time, thought this was one of the funniest things that they had ever seen. There are times when we all feel like throwing our cell phone into the spaghetti bowl – technology can be extremely frustrating. However, my observation is that people, and especially attorneys, steadfastly refuse to throw their cell phone into the spaghetti bowl, even when they should.

Cell phones, tablet devices, laptop computers and other forms of mobile technology are great things. They increase our productivity. They allow professionals, including attorneys, to multitask. They give us the freedom to work away from our offices. Gone are the days when attorneys had to be at their offices during regular business hours; we can now attend our children’s ball games while taking short conference calls or responding to email correspondence. In a family such as mine, where both my wife and I have full-time jobs, cell phones allow us to juggle our home and work responsibilities more effectively.

However, my observation has also been that the electronic devices we possess are “mixed use” devices. In addition to housing our work email, work calendar and work-related apps, these devices also have a number of “play” apps, including but not limited to video games, Internet capability and YouTube. Accordingly, the ability to access both work and play 24/7 is only a click away. It is unfortunate, but I often see attorneys, friends and strangers using their cell phones or other smart devices at times when it is absolutely inappropriate to do so.

I attended a seminar this past spring. It was a great event; the speakers were excellent, and the seminar was well attended by attorneys from all segments of our profession. I arrived at the seminar a little bit late and ended up sitting in the back of the auditorium, so I had a fairly good view of the attendees in the room as well as the speakers. The number of attendees who had either a cell phone or a tablet device was striking. What was also striking was the number of attorneys who were using their cell phones or tablets during the seminar presentation. It was also clear from what I could see on the screens that the use of these devices was not work related. I found it a little shocking and rather depressing that many of the attendees were using their smart devices at a time they should have been listening to the presentation. Moreover, I suspect that none of these attorneys discounted their ethics credit for the time spent using their cell phones or tablet devices during the seminar.

Another example of smart phone misuse or abuse can be vacation. Like many attorneys, I take my cell phone and tablet with me on vacation, mainly to clear emails while away. If I didn’t bring my smart devices, I would most likely spend my first day back at work going over hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of emails that had come in while I was away, most of which are inconsequential, insignificant or just plain spam. However, more often than not, I find myself handling some small aspect of some matter on vacation just because I saw it come in on my email. Before long, I find myself billing an hour or two each day of vacation on matters that – while not insignificant – could have certainly waited until I returned to the office. At some point, attorneys, myself included, have to ask themselves, “What’s the point of vacation if you’re just going to work during it anyway?”

Cell phones, tablet devices, laptop computers and related devices are great; they put work and indeed the world at our fingertips 24/7/365. However, there are times when we really shouldn’t be checking our email or playing solitaire. As members of a great profession, we need to recognize that there are times when we really do need to be like Poppy and throw our cell phone in the spaghetti bowl – if only for a while.•

__________

Mr. Strenski is a partner in the Indianapolis firm of Cantrell Strenski & Mehringer and is a member of the DTCI board of directors. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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  3. All these sites putting up all the crap they do making Brent Look like A Monster like he's not a good person . First off th fight actually started not because of Brent but because of one of his friends then when the fight popped off his friend ran like a coward which left Brent to fend for himself .It IS NOT a crime to defend yourself 3 of them and 1 of him . just so happened he was a better fighter. I'm Brent s wife so I know him personally and up close . He's a very caring kind loving man . He's not abusive in any way . He is a loving father and really shouldn't be where he is not for self defense . Now because of one of his stupid friends trying to show off and turning out to be nothing but a coward and leaving Brent to be jumped by 3 men not only is Brent suffering but Me his wife , his kids abd step kidshis mom and brother his family is left to live without him abd suffering in more ways then one . that man was and still is my smile ....he's the one real thing I've ever had in my life .....f@#@ You Lafayette court system . Learn to do your jobs right he maybe should have gotten that year for misdemeanor battery but that s it . not one person can stand to me and tell me if u we're in a fight facing 3 men and u just by yourself u wouldn't fight back that you wouldn't do everything u could to walk away to ur family ur kids That's what Brent is guilty of trying to defend himself against 3 men he wanted to go home tohisfamily worse then they did he just happened to be a better fighter and he got the best of th others . what would you do ? Stand there lay there and be stomped and beaten or would u give it everything u got and fight back ? I'd of done the same only I'm so smallid of probably shot or stabbed or picked up something to use as a weapon . if it was me or them I'd do everything I could to make sure I was going to live that I would make it hone to see my kids and husband . I Love You Brent Anthony Forever & Always .....Soul 1 baby

  4. Good points, although this man did have a dog in the legal fight as that it was his mother on trial ... and he a dependent. As for parking spaces, handicap spots for pregnant women sure makes sense to me ... er, I mean pregnant men or women. (Please, I meant to include pregnant men the first time, not Room 101 again, please not Room 101 again. I love BB)

  5. I have no doubt that the ADA and related laws provide that many disabilities must be addressed. The question, however, is "by whom?" Many people get dealt bad cards by life. Some are deaf. Some are blind. Some are crippled. Why is it the business of the state to "collectivize" these problems and to force those who are NOT so afflicted to pay for those who are? The fact that this litigant was a mere spectator and not a party is chilling. What happens when somebody who speaks only East Bazurkistanish wants a translator so that he can "understand" the proceedings in a case in which he has NO interest? Do I and all other taxpayers have to cough up? It would seem so. ADA should be amended to provide a simple rule: "Your handicap, YOUR problem". This would apply particularly to handicapped parking spaces, where it seems that if the "handicap" is an ingrown toenail, the government comes rushing in to assist the poor downtrodden victim. I would grant wounded vets (IED victims come to mind in particular) a pass on this.. but others? Nope.

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