At a recent Institute for the Future conference, Mike Chorost remarked that devices like the BlackBerry are basically designed to give us ADD, and one of the challenges we face in the future is to design tools that aren't quite so disruptive or addictive. In that vein, ABA Journal reports that a New York law firm as banned BlackBerries and smart phones in meetings.

A law firm in suburban New York City has banned electronic devices from major meetings to prevent distractions caused by cell phones and BlackBerrys.

The six-month-old "no-device policy" at the Long Island law firm of Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone is intended to prevent even vibrations from incoming calls and e-mail messages from interrupting the flow of business….

At routine meetings, new guidelines allow participants to bring electronic devices but require them to step out into the hall when an essential call or e-mail demands an immediate response.

According to Newsday,

The "no-device policy" came about, says partner Ira R. Halperin, as the steady buzzes and vibrations signaling a new call or e-mail were increasingly interfering with meeting-goers' focus.

And you're not fooling anyone by trying to unobtrusively thumb out a response as you hold your BlackBerry under the table, says Halperin, co-head of the corporate law group, who admits to having been quite an offender himself.

At Slate, law blogger Philip Carter comments,

In my practice, and my work in/around government, I've seen this problem too. Big time. I'm certainly guilty of excessive BlackBerry usage. I even have colleagues (including some at Slate) who read their BlackBerries and thumb out messages while driving—a massive risk for them, and for their companies who may be held liable for anything that happens while they're reading/sending work e-mail…. I think we've gone too far—and that the quality of our counsel actually suffers because we are moving too fast and responding too quickly. We need to slow down.

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