Lombardi raises one issue to which I gave short shrift: that lawyers should not blindly rely on advice offered on listserves without conducting their own independent verification. However, those lawyers who willingly accept advice from other lawyers (e.g., “The statute says X”) without checking the source are the same lawyers who, in the absense of the listserve, probably wouldn’t even bother to research a question to begin with (For example, I know one lawyer who will file a motion without any caselaw and then let his opponent “do the work for him” by researching and citing applicable cases in the response. Let’s just say that this lawyer’s clients wouldn’t be any worse off if this lawyer relied on unverified advice from a listserve).
Lombardi also mentions the problem of too much listserve garbage that he claims don’t interest experienced attorneys – the endless stream of “me too’s” and political discussion and posts by lawyers in way over their heads. However, information overload isn’t unique to listserves; it’s a product of the Internet era where we’re regularly inundated with a constant stream of information from listserves, blogs, news sources and RSS feeds. As lawyers, we need to find ways to manage that information, to cull the wheat from the chaff in an efficient and proactive manner. Yes, many listserves do benefit from moderators, but we lawyers must take responsibility for moderating information for ourselves. This means liberal use of mail filters, search tools and most of all, the “delete key.”