Let's assume that 2000 has arrived with only minor disruptions and our economy is still functioning and we're not in some state of nature where everyone wears grass skirts and hunts possum for dinner. So what's next? Hearsay polled some local lawyers to inquire about their goals for the new millennium, or their professional aspirations. Or both. Forthwith, their replies.

Robert Bennett, partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and attorney for President Clinton:

"My only New Year's resolution is cutting down on my cigar smoking."

Jack Olender, local king of the medical malpractice bar:

"After years of being portrayed as scruffy ambulance chasers and mocked for our tasseled loafers, lawyers will find respect, lawyer jokes will be considered a form of hate speech. We lawyers might even be cool."

William Baer, former director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition, who has spent the better part of the last two months playing golf:

"Get a job, go back to work but fight to preserve at least some of the relaxed feel from unemployed days."

Christine Varney, partner at Hogan & Hartson:

"I hope to be a virtual lawyer and a real mom now that I have a teenager, which is far more challenging than being a lawyer."

John Coale, partner at Coale, Cooley, Lietz, McInerny & Broadus and attorney for six cities suing gun manufacturers:

"I guess my main aspiration is to get the gun industry to stop screwing around with the negotiations and get serious about doing something. And I'd like to lose 40 pounds. It used to be that I wanted to lose 60 pounds, and it's not that I have to lose less, it's that I'm getting more realistic as the years go by."

Greta Van Susteren, host of CNN's "Burden of Proof":

"Through my job, I'd like to get people to understand that when they cast a vote next November they won't just be casting one for four years for president. They could be shaping the future of the country because the next president may have four appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, I want to be able to avoid my husband's low blood sugar if he goes on one of his crazy diets." Van Susteren is married to John Coale.

Robert Pitofsky, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission:

"I recently read that the breakthrough innovations at the end of the last millennium were the horseshoe, multiple yoke for oxen and painted glass windows in England. Let's hope that the Internet, space travel and nuclear energy developments -- protected, of course, by vigorous enforcement of consumer protection and antitrust laws -- do half as much for the human condition."

Steve Newborn, D.C. partner at Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells, the newly created result of the merger of England's Clifford Chance and Manhattan-based Rogers & Wells:

"As the co-head of the first truly worldwide antitrust group, I hope to be able to integrate over 30 offices so that clients can reap the benefits of one-stop, worldwide antitrust shopping."

William Kovacic, antitrust professor at George Washington University Law School:

"That Andy Gavil (Howard University), Jon Baker (American) and I will finish a new casebook that captures the excitement of recent developments in antitrust law and changes the way that students learn about competition policy in the new century."

Richard Sauber, partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson:

"I'm going to be more vigilant about writing down every conversation I have, no matter how trivial. Given the present atmosphere of suspicion and mutual distrust, the only way to protect yourself fully is to write down every communication, even though you run the risk of having such files subpoenaed."

DC Chef, the online handle of the lawyer who oversees Greedy DC, a Web site that tracks salaries for local firms:

"To find out every single associate salary in the Washington, D.C., area."

David Landau, partner at the legal headhunting firm Klein, Landau & Romm:

"May the Washington area continue to attract high-tech industries and therefore high-tech-related legal work. And may the lateral hiring boom that has blessed the legal profession continue unabated."

Plato Cacheris, of the Law Offices of Plato Cacheris, who served as one of Monica Lewinsky's defense lawyers:

"I've lived long enough now not to make New Year's resolutions. That way I don't disappoint myself."

Keith Watters, legal pundit and plaintiffs' lawyer with Keith Watters and Associates:

"Work smarter, not harder. If I'm going to be doing anything different next year it will be trying to employ technology better than I've already utilized it."

Fred Moring, partner at Crowell & Moring:

"I resolve to remember that MM is not merely my wife's initials but also the Roman number for the year in which I retire."

Lyles Carr, the McCormick Group, a legal consulting firm in Arlington:

"I'm resolved to help instill a greater sense of corporate citizenship within the Washington area legal community."

AND PEACE ON EARTH...

In recent days, anyone calling the office of David Falk -- the superagent who represents a benchload of National Basketball Association stars -- heard the following:

"Hello, this is David Falk. With the holiday season upon us, the words of the immortal Bing Crosby ring in my ears: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the one that I used to know. Where the tree tops glisten and the owners listen to salaries continuing to grow. I'm dreaming of white Christmas with every million-dollar contract I write. May your days be merry and bright, and may the clients always be right."

Blab to Hearsay at segald@washpost.com