Monday, February 20, 2006

Attention Deficit

I didn't want to write this column. When I first read about a couple of lawyers' snippy emails circulating online, I dismissed it as uninteresting gossip. Then the Boston Globe published it on the front page, and I was floored. I decided I wasn't going to comment, recalling a bit of ethical advice from a journalism professor: "You can't unring a bell, but you can stop ringing it."

However, the Globe report has repeatedly topped the "Most Emailed" list for the past week. I can ignore stupid, childish behavior from attorneys, and I can turn my head when the Globe puts gossip on its front page. But hundreds of people in Boston and thousands of people across the internet are continuing to recycle this story, and it's time someone told them to shut up.

Here are the emails. The story is brief. Dianna Abdala, a 24-year-old graduate of Suffolk Law, applied for a job with a law firm owned by 36-year-old former prosecutor William Korman. Following the initial interview, Korman decided to hire two attorneys instead of one and consequently reduced the salary he was offering Abdala. She declined his offer, and they traded a short series of emails that were, at worst, impolite and testy.

Korman forwarded the exchange to a colleague, who forwarded it to someone else. Lather, rinse, repeat. The email has since circled the world.

The Globe tried to spin this as a lesson: "The next time you're tempted to send a nasty, exasperated, or snippy e-mail, pause, take a deep breath, and think again." That's a cheap ploy to justify publishing pointless gossip, and both Sacha Pfeiffer and the editors should be ashamed.

It's not worth trying to reprimand any 24-year-old foolish enough to describe herself to a newspaper reporter as a "trust fund baby"; and any attorney trying to build his criminal defense practice by announcing to the world that he has no regard for privacy or discretion certainly deserves whatever lessons he's about to learn. But the truth is, aside from the lack of any substance to this story, there's isn't even much fire. You can spend five minutes in any internet forum and find less civil arguments about more pertinent issues, so it's absolutely astounding that the Boston Globe found this worthy of attention. I know the paper's a rag, but I don't understand why they feel compelled to prove it twice a month.

We're cursed to live in interesting times. You would think those privileged to practice the law and those entrusted to report the news would find more constructive uses for their time than shuffling inconsequential gossip. Get back to work.


Post a Comment

<< Home