Raj Panasar, a partner in Cleary’s London office, apparently sent an e-mail to London-based lawyers suggesting that they should always be available to answer e-mails or at least arrange for a colleague to answer messages when a lawyer is truly unreachable. The only time an “out of office” reply might be acceptable is when a lawyer is on a long flight, Panasar wrote.
Umm … wtf?
[T]he “out of office” reply should indicate which time zone the lawyer is traveling to and when he or she will be able to respond to the message. At The Am Law Daily, we find that such detailed “out of office” messages are already typical among oft-traveling partners, but we had never heard of a near-blanket prohibition on “out of office” replies.
On the one hand, Cleary hasn’t cut or frozen salaries or gone through a round of mass layoffs. We imagine Cleary attorneys are willing to go the extra mile to serve clients in this market.
On the other hand, what kind of crazy, self-important, gunner-emeritus do you have to be to think that a client cannot process the line: “if you have a pressing question, please contact [Name], [email], [phone number].” Maybe Mr. Panasar is only “truly” unavailable when he is fighting with the flight attendant about the relevant FAA regulations. But the vast majority of people — partners or associates — are not in the best frame of mind to answer pressing work questions when they are trolling for recent divorcees on Grand Cayman. Aren’t you serving your clients better by directing them to attorneys that are in the office and capable of responding in real time, instead of handling it yourself while you are distracted by other vacation activities?
Unless Panasar thinks lawyers shouldn’t ever take a vacation in the first place? But I don’t think Cleary is going to put that in its fall recruitment brochure.
Cleary Partner: “Out of Office” Replies Not Acceptable [AmLaw Daily]