Profiling the Professional Spammer


A part of my professional development is being an active member in several bar associations that relate to my daily life as a lawyer. At least that is the lie I tell myself when I write the checks for renewal to these various organizations.

If I was being honest, you could call the organizations that I pay to belong to “the local bar association that anyone who is anyone joins (and for cheap CLE)”, “the state bar that sends out a daily email highlighting the important developments in the law (also known as “Namby is too lazy to do the research himself” bar association) and finally, “the professional association that helps me avoid malpractice.”

One of the additional “benefits” of these organizations is membership in their email listservs.


For those of you not in the 20th Century (or later), a listserv is more or less an email list where one member can send the whole group an email by using the group email address. Outside of the professional relevancy, these email groups are a fertile place for humor. Aside from the dominant quirky personalities of these groups (which I discuss at length several paragraphs below) one can also get the dumb questions, the dumb responses and the occasional missent email for all to consume, digest and laugh about at happy hour. A real life example:

To: Bar Association Listserv
Date: May 23, 2011
Time: 6:17a.m
Subject: Can’t wait!!!
From: Old Creepy Attorney

My beloved:

I wanted to comment on your comment about condoms. I cannot imagine anything more inhibiting! Like you, I truly can’t wait to be skin to skin! I can’t wait for just us!!!!

Just let me know when you are ready.

I’m just going to let that sink in for a second.

This is not the first time I’ve seen something like this. In law school, a lawyer sent an email love letter (that was quite . . . explicit) to his girlfriend mistakenly to a national listserv. The problem was that his wife was on the listserv and his girlfriend was not. My managing partner at the time must have forwarded that to a hundred different lawyers, law clerks and clients. Much like anyone who sends the wrong email to the wrong person (or more than a 1000 persons), the hastily written “apology” soon followed:

To: Bar Association Listserv
Date: May 23, 2011
Time: 6:21a.m
Subject: Embarrassment?
From: Old Creepy Attorney

I have no idea how I sent that e-mail to this group. Not sure if I should be humiliated or proud.

Again. I’ll let you take a second to clear the vomit from your mouth.

Outside of the occasional sultry mistake, these groups can provide a resource for attorneys, young and old. I am sure that I am not alone when I say that, as a young lawyer, there are times when I lack total confidence in my knowledge and abilities. These email listservs can be as educational as watching Meet the Press or as off the wall as watching Will it Blend.

The professional email listservs are not without problems: (1) I get hundreds of emails a day from people I don’t know, (2) there’s a lot of irrelevant junk, and (3) the listserv is not always right. In two years that I’ve been on one of the state bar listservs, I’ve sent a grand total of 2 emails. Today, I’ve received roughly 95 emails from one list. Over the last several years (while being an on and off member of various lists), I’ve noticed that there is a collection of the same individuals who profusely contribute to the list no matter what the list topic may be.

It’s like you are back amongst your first year law school section and the major players quickly can be identified. They all seem to take a dominant role, they send way too many emails each day and they claim to know what they are talking about:

Know Nothing & Know Even Less, LLP

These are the individuals that really do not know anything and each email they send just furthers this belief. They are among the most frequent emailers (read: gunners) to the list and usually they involve very intricate fact patterns where there is one or more glaring errors:

To: Bar Association Listserv
Subject: Potential Client
From: TTT Salutatorian

I had a call from a potential client with an XYZ claim with a potential class action status. What are the potential downfalls from taking on a case like this?

The next twenty emails are various list members telling the sender ever so politely that (1) the statute of limitations has run, (2) that the “potential” class action was started five years ago and the class has been defined, and (3) he/she is an idiot. They also tend to shill for all sorts of business (i.e. court appearance coverage, special process server, drapes, etc.). I may take time out of my day when I see an email comes in from one of these people just to get a boost in my confidence. If I ever become like this, please see to it that I am smothered with a pillow.

Rainmaker Pontifex Maximus

I would think that this sort of list member is unique to personal injury associations. This is the type of man or woman who engages in the list only to answer questions of others (usually in one word answers sent at times when no normal human being is awake) and to announce his or her firm’s personal successes:

To: Bar Association Listserv
Subject: Congratulations
From: Saint Clarence Darrow

I would like to extend congratulations to Jane Q. Associate and myself on our recent jury verdict of $45,000,000 for the victims of [insert random corporate defendant] due to their brazen disregard for [insert something menacing sounding] that has affected [insert artificially inflated large number of ordinary people here].

This is a great day for Justice in America.

Great day for justice? More like a great day for your firm’s bank account by adding in the eight figure contingency fee.

The True Believer

The most dangerous sort of attorney is one that believes in the absolute justness of his or her cause. When something in the news or a recent development in the law occurs, like Citizens United, or a major lobbying group does something noteworthy, this individual immediately sends out an email outlining how he/she (1) is outraged, (2) believes that the bar association should respond, and (3) why anyone who disagrees with them is a Republican vapid whore.

To: Bar Association Listserv
Subject: Recent Inter
From: Bill Ayers

I cannot believe that our organization is standing idly by as Allstate continues their onslaught against our work on behalf of victims. Their latest ad insults each and everyone of us as we toil against Big Insurance. For those of you who haven’t seen it, please do so immediately. I encourage all of our members to send letters to our local papers and to contact your ABA representative to take additional action. If we fail to counter this false impression, we will be playing second fiddle in the negotiation process for the remainder of our professional lives. The victims of negligence cannot afford us to stay silent for any longer: our leadership must take steps to counter these ads immediately!

I guess I’m the only guy who not only can chase the ambulance but also laugh while chasing said ambulance.

Each and every day I get assaulted with dozens of emails by people like this. My plea for my fellow professionals is to never be like this. If you are this much of a douchebag professionally, I can’t imagine that you are much better away from the keyboard.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanfranannie/4557248002/)

Read more posts on Bitter Lawyer from the Namby Pamby. Or follow his writing on thenambypambyblog.com or @thenambypamby.

7 Comments

  1. Quadoz

    May 24, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I feel the pain. We use Groupwise at my midnight job. Similar results can come from this. Someone sends an email to everyone in the damn city network. It’s always the most pointless dribble that has nothing to do with the job.

    Nicely written.

    QUADOZ
    City cop by night, Rookie attorney by day.

  2. Strenuous Objector

    May 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Two things this article made me think of. First, the idiot about condoms is the exact reason why EVERYONE should check the recipients of their emails/texts before sending them. I mean, how difficult is it to verify that gf is in the “to” column and not wife? Second, the law is a perfect place to break the old saying of “there are no stupid questions.” They only say that to trick you into asking your incredibly stupid questions. It’s like Socrates tricking you into hanging yourself. Enjoyed as always.

  3. Guano Dubango

    May 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I would never force my own views on the use of specific contraception methods upon any woman. It would have to be a decision that was arrived at mutually, following due deliberation and consideration of the best interests of both parties. I am interested in a woman who will bear me issue, and to that extent, I do not endorse the use of any contraception if the woman is both fertile and attractive. To the extent I can be assured to receive the benefit of issue, I will ask the woman to be my wife, with the blessing of my Aunt Ooona. This is only fair, since my Aunt Ooona is the matriarchal head of our family.

  4. Alma Federer

    May 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I think Guano may not be as sincere as he seems to act.

    Guano, am I to understand you would respect and marry a woman after you have had sex with her, assuming that she is fertile and meets your Aunt Ooona’s standards?

    Where do you live?

  5. Allison

    May 25, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Alma, you must have drank some tequlia. Giano, stay away from Alma: nothing but trouble and her best child bearing years are behind her.

  6. Aunt Ooona

    May 25, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Alma, you stay away froma my Guano. You messed up more dan mos womeen.

    Guano, Alma willa getta fat, boss you around, den when you die before her, she willa tell evryone how mean you are for dying an leaving her alone without a man to support her. eet will be your fault for dying.

    Dat Alma eez a messed up woman from da feminists lika Steinem ana da one who wrote in 50’s about woman able to live at home as eef dey in some kind of prison. feminists maka women think dey are oppressed at work, oppressed atta home, oppressed eef you open a door for dem, and den oppressed eef you die before they do and dey have to earn a living without you. No wonder so many women dey messed up. Stay away froma womeen lika Alma. There are plenty of nice, smart womeen who don think lika Alma. The normal ones lika sex for themselves, don nag you all da time an dey maka good wife.

  7. Strenuous Objector

    May 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Guano, is your Aunt Boss Nass? I mean, you’re either related to a Gungan or spell check/grammer check doesn’t work in Africa.

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