Denver Bar Association
November 1999
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Y2K? Strong and Over 50 Will Survive

by Marshall Snider

Those who survive on Jan. 1, 2000, will be those who are prepared. The rest of you are in deep trouble.

Fortunately, magazine articles, television programs, lectures and half of the Internet Web sites have told us how to be prepared: have 50 gallons of water in stock, six months’ supply of canned goods (scientific proof now exists that a human being can live on canned prunes for 10 months but, after a few days, lack of water gets to be a problem), wads of cash and a good gun.

But assuming all the lawyers survive by following that advice, the question still remains: What will we find when we go to work on Jan. 3, 2000? How can a lawyer face the disaster of having no phones, faxes, word processors or e-mail, and still perservere? The attorneys who are prepared to practice law on Jan. 3 will be the ones whose genes will create the next generation of lawyers. The rest of you will be extinct.

In order to keep the legal profession rolling along come January, I have compiled the following list of items necessary for survival. Hoard these tools now, and you’ll be able to send bills by Jan. 15. Ignore this advice and you will be no better off than any other poor slob in the vast crowd of ragged, post-apocalyptic wanderers, dragging their poor carcasses across the scorched earth, searching for a client.

  1. Get yourself a Macintosh SE. This beauty is the VW Beetle of computers. When archaeologists dust off an old SE in 2245, it will start right up like it was brand new. An SE does not care what day it is. It knows only one thing: when commanded, it computes. Of course, you will not be able to use a word processing software beyond 1.4. But compared to the rest of your colleagues, who will be relying on scribes with quill pens, you will be able to grind out pleadings, briefs and discovery at an astronomically fast rate.

    Now, I know what you are saying: If there is no electricity when the millennium bug bites, even a trusty Mac SE won’t keep me from starvation. Not to worry. Just follow these next "no-electricity-contingency" steps.

  2. Dust off your old Remington. The typewriter, not the rifle. It doesn’t need electricity or a dedicated phone line. Typewriters rely on a now antiquated form of power supply, which the ancients call "manual."

  3. Once you have the typewriter, you will need carbon paper and white-out. Unfortunately, these tools of the trade are not available in stores. You will need to start today by breaking into museums and the Office Supply Hall of Fame to get your hands on the last few remaining stocks of these necessities of the post-electric age.

    But hoarding carbon paper and white-out is not enough. To understand what these things are and how they work, you will have to consult a lawyer who is over 50 years old. Lawyers in their 50s and beyond will be charging exorbitant consulting fees over the next few weeks to prepare younger attorneys to survive in an age without electricity and e-commerce. But it will be well worth the investment once the lights go out at midnight, December 31. I am available for this consulting, but I accept only cash payment (in advance, thank you).

  4. If you don’t hire me and my cronies to teach you how to use typewriters with carbon paper, you can hire multitudes of scribes to write out copies of legal documents by hand. Store up now on ink, inkwells and quill pens. There is one big advantage to going this route: After Y2K, the millions of Information Technology techno-geeks who have been running and ruining our lives for the past two decades will be out of work and desperate for any job they can find. You can take sweet revenge by hiring them as scribes at starvation wages.

  5. Hire a messenger service: do it now! People with feet and bicycles will be in high demand once electricity, phones, faxes and e-mails become worthless; car computers malfunction; and there is not a drop of gasoline to be found. If you act now and sign messengers to exclusive contracts, your competitors won’t have access to them. You will be working on your next brief while other lawyers are walking to Golden to file a motion for extension of time.

As things stand today, only lawyers who are strong and over 50 are prepared to survive in the post-Y2K maelstrom. But if you follow these few simple tips, you too, can greet the millennium with a smile on your face, a client in your office and ink stains on your fingers from hand-writing demand letters to people who are still climbing over the rubble, looking for the courthouse. Ink, as we will all learn on Jan. 3, will never be obsolete.

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