Origins: Most of us working stiffs have, at one time or another, been asked to perform some menial task — a trivial and demeaning assignment outside the scope of our employment, foisted upon us to satisfy the whim of a superior or a client. The usual response to being burdened with such petty duty is to express displeasure by griping, foot-dragging, and completing the odious chore with as little expenditure of effort as possible. Once in a while, however, an employee chooses to highlight his dissatisfaction with having been handed a belittling task through the opposite approach
The latter technique is the conceit behind the infamous "sushi memo," a document purportedly produced in
Was this memo a form of tacit protest by an underling disgruntled at being selected for a menial undertaking, or was it, in the words of the New York Times, an illustration of "the climate of a large law firm for many paralegals, who may feel compelled to give every assignment the single-minded vigor of a filing in a capital case, even if they are only helping to find some particularly fresh raw tuna." Or was it perhaps simply a parody, something deliberately crafted as a joke to lampoon both these concepts? That's no easy question to answer, as the New York Times discovered:
Whether or not the "sushi memo" is on the level, it's a wonderfully humorous effort deserving of enshrinement on these pages.
Last updated: 18 July 2007
Glater, Jonathan D. "Legal Research? Get Me Sushi, with Footnotes." The New York Times. 22 October 2003 (p. A1).