Old man Ed. at Blawg Review sent me the link because he likes to tweak me on stuff like this. You see, I have a really great email address from AOL because I was a subscriber years ago when the good email addresses were still available. Mine is SHGLaw. I’ve used it for what seems like forever. Everybody who knows me knows that it’s my email address. I was cool once.
But time marches on, and it’s no longer cool to have an AOL email address. It’s been said before, but was reiterated by Ernie the Attorney.
Lawyers need a professional email address, and it’s not @aol.com
I submit that high on the list of “professionalism” goals should be for lawyers to get their own domain name for use with the firm email. Can it be considered professional these days for an attorney to use an email address like this: firstname.lastname@example.org? Same goes for @hotmail, @yahoo, and even @gmail.
I’m sure that Ed got a chuckle out of this, since he knows that I still use my old-fangled AOL email address and he loves to point out how un-techno-cool I am. I have an email address for simplejustice.us as well, but it gets forwarded to my AOL address so I see everything in the same place. It’s more efficient that way, and eliminating needless complications allows me to spend less time on being cool and more time doing my work.
Ernie, apparently, thinks otherwise. There are many things that matter greatly in today’s complex world of lawyering, and one of those things is the domain name used by lawyers. After reading his post, I asked a client how important it was to him that I had a really cool email address as opposed to my old fogey AOL email address.
“It’s very important, Greenfield,” he told me. “Right after winning my case, it’s the most important thing in the world to me.”
After he left, I commented on Ernie post about his position that having the right email address was “high on the list of professionalism.” I submitted, in response to his submission, that a lawyer’s email address really wasn’t terribly important, and that Ernie’s time and effort would be better spent submitting that professionalism is better accomplished by worrying about the ability to be a damn good lawyer than about the domain name at the back end of an email address. I went so far as to suggest that his submission was seriously misguided.
My comment wasn’t the first. Another person had already written this Ernie’s post was “great.” Dollars to donuts (no hipster would ever use such a ridiculously archaic expression as this), this commenter had struggled long and hard to come up with the perfect email address, one that would impress the most astute hipster on the internet.
It’s not really clear to me what a hipster is, though my teenage son has tried to explain it to me a few times. My understanding is that it’s someone who is more concerned with the appearance of being cutting edge than possessing the underlying skills, knowledge or background to cut the edge himself. Hipsters wear cool eyeglasses and very tight pants, because they make him look, well, hip. I get my eyeglasses at the drug store because I lost the ones I bought from the optometrist, and I prefer relaxed fit because they’re roomy and comfortable.
As a matter of respect, I checked back to see whether Ernie had any thoughts on my comment. It wasn’t there. Ernie’s comments are moderated, and mine was apparently moderated into oblivion.
I don’t know Ernie Svenson, though from his picture, he doesn’t look like the sort of fellow to wear tight pants. My guess is that there are different types of hipsters, and he’s just the Louisiana version. But regardless, the elevation of such trivialities as one’s email address to appease those children for whom appearances trump substance makes one a hipster no matter whether you wear a neon glasses or pince nez. I just wish lawyers wouldn’t adopt hipster priorities.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with having a really cool email address, with the domain being either your law firm marketing name or some variation that tells those for whom the domain name is a viable substitute for things like ability and experience, but on the list of things that matter to lawyers, and more importantly to clients, my bet is that winning their cases is likely to be more important than how hip your email address is.
I’m considering sending Ernie an email to ask him why he didn’t think my comment, though critical, was worthy of seeing the light of day. I’ve got his email right here, email@example.com. It’s right at the top of his blog, where even us old fogeys can find it. And no, I won’t hold it against him.