General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Technology & Practice Guide

Subscribing to a List Serve

Let’s say you learn of a discussion group established by a lawyer named Lew Rose that is devoted to the topic of using the Internet in the practice of law. To become a member of that List Serve:

• Address an e-mail message to the address This address looks like any e-mail user’s address. However, it is not the address of a person, but of a program that is always running on a computer named The name of the program is List Serve.

• That e-mail message would contain one line only: subscribe net- lawyers [your first name] [your last name]. This tells the list processor that the discussion group you are interested in joining is the one named net-lawyers. Any computer that is running List Serve is capable of managing multiple discussion lists, so you have to tell the program which discussion you want to join. You add your name so that the List Serve program can associate your human name with your e-mail address. You do not have to tell the list processor what your e-mail address is; it will figure that out by examining the header that comes with your e-mail address.

• You will then receive confirmation; after that, you are ready to participate in the list. It is a good idea to read through the messages that are being sent to the list before you send any of your own. That way you will have a feel for the sorts of things that are being discussed.

Once you are ready to participate, simply send a message to net- Your message will be sent to all the people on the list.

If you decide that you hate the list, or you don’t have time for it any more, or you are going to be away for a while, you might want to drop out of the list. That can be done very easily. Sticking to my example of net-lawyers, I routinely drop off of that list when I am going to be away on business. The traffic on that list is high and I simply do not want my mail box to be filled with messages when I get back into town. To drop off the list, I simply send a message to containing the line unsubscribe net-lawyers ( signoff net-lawyers will work as well). This time, you don’t need to send your name since the computer already knows it. If you decide to resubscribe later on, you will do so exactly the same way you originally subscribed.


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