A partner in the London office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has told lawyers in that office that it is unacceptable to fail to answer an e-mail message at any time, except possibly when a lawyer is on a long flight and therefore actually unable to receive messages. In that unfortunate event, said Mr. Raj Panasar, the "out-of-office" automatic reply (which he detests), must indicate the time zone to which the lawyer will be traveling and when, exactly, he or she will once more be able to respond.
Here's my new auto-reply:
I am currently unable to respond to your e-mail, which I'm sure is perhaps the most important message that Homo sapiens has yet received and/or sent. I am currently traveling. Specifically, I am traveling back through time in an effort to find and kill the ancestors of (1) whoever invented the BlackBerry and (2) Raj Panasar. (Should I successfully locate the ancestors of (1), killing the ancestors of (2) will not be necessary. Although I may go ahead and wound them, just because.)
I will respond to your astonishingly important message once I have returned to the present day, should I fail in my mission and again be required to submit to further soul-crushing privacy invasions from you and your ever-vigilant BlackBerry.
M. Kevin Underhill
You will not miss the irony of the last line of the American Lawyer's report on this story: "Panasar and a firm spokeswoman did not immediately reply to messages seeking comment."
Those two better be traveling, is all I can say.
Link: AmLaw Daily