Monday, July 31, 2006

Every month I get a piece of garbage sent to me via e-mail from the people who charge us more than they're worth over at Lexis. I've argued for a long time that there's no need for us to subscribe to both Lexis and Westlaw, and the only reason it makes any sense is that we charge our clients more than we pay for it and end up turning a profit. If we couldn't charge it back to our clients, I'd say we should send our associates back into the library and have them do it all by hand just like I had an associate pick the raisins out of my raisin bran muffin this morning because I wasn't in the mood for them. Normally I like raisins but today I didn't want any.

Lexis sends me and every other attorney an e-mail spam newsletter every month that I usually delete immediately, but this time I needed something to read in the bathroom (I had my laptop with me to catch up on some work) and scrolled through it. Sure enough, now I know. Lexis is at least partially to blame for the incompetence all around me. In the "associate life" section (as if associates have any reason to read anything about them having a life!), there's a ridiculous feature on wine appreciation. "Confused by the difference between a cabernet and a chardonnay? Sooner or later you'll entertain a client at a nice restaurant, or you'll be talking to a partner who knows a lot about wine and you don't want to appear totally ignorant."

Nonsense. Associates appear totally ignorant not because they don't know anything about wine but because they don't know anything about practicing law. I don't care if my associates can tell the difference between a cabernet and a chardonnay. I need them to be able to tell the difference between a judicial holding and the dicta. Between a set of facts we can distinguish and a set of facts we can't. Not about soave versus pinot grigio. Give me a break.

There's even a set of 15 vocabulary words for associates to learn, so they can talk more intelligently about wine. Like "oaky." How about learning Latin? Or at least reading the bankruptcy code a few more times?

At least it beats Westlaw's feature on the best places to buy sleeping pills on the Internet without a prescription. That stuff is really slowing down associate productivity. Can't sleep? Big deal. So don't.

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