Byte of Prevention Blog

by Lawyers Mutual |

Email Etiquette and Efficiency

Email plays a crucial role in the daily activities of legal professionals. Whether they are exchanging messages with colleagues, communicating with clients, or staying informed about court notifications, lawyers find their email inboxes flooded with a continuous flow of messages, creating a potentially overwhelming situation. 

A recent Microsoft study noted that some employees spend over eight hours a week on email. The average lawyer likely spends even more time than that reading and responding to emails. Whether it's a few seconds here or a few minutes there, the time dedicated to clicking on and reading unnecessary communications, searching for emails, or returning to an email draft after getting sidetracked accumulates. Consequences of an unmanaged email response system can lead to a decline in productivity, distraction from focusing on other essential tasks, communication hurdles, and missing important documents or deadlines. Additionally, neglecting client communications can adversely affect client relationships, not to mention overall elevated stress levels. 

Sharon Miki, a legal technology writer for Clio, offers several helpful suggestions to improve time management and efficiency in monitoring and responding to emails: 

  1. Declutter regularly by deleting, archiving, and or unsubscribing from non-essential emails.
  2. Set specific time blocks for checking emails. It could be 5 or 10 minutes at the top of every hour. Be sure not to attempt to multi-task during this block of time.
  3. Prioritize and respond to important and urgent emails.
  4. Where appropriate, delegate email tasks to support staff.
  5. Create folders and labels for different clients, matters, and subjects.

While you are revamping your email management systems and practices, do not forget about professionalism and ethics. Be sure to use a secure email service with appropriate safeguards that will protect your clients’ confidential information. Watch out for email scams and train all attorneys and staff on best practices. Be civil when responding to opposing parties. If you would not say it to someone’s face, you should not say it in an email. Be careful not to send confidential client information to unintended recipients. Beware of using “reply all.” Do not ignore client email inquiries. The number one complaint that clients have is being ignored by their lawyer.

By implementing these strategies, you will become more efficient and will have happier clients.

About the Author

Lawyers Mutual

Lawyers Mutual, founded in 1977, is the first lawyers mutual insurance company in the country and has provided continuous professional liability coverage to North Carolina lawyers for 40 years. Its reputation for leadership, professionalism and commitment to its attorneys sets the standard for other legal malpractice insurance providers. For more information, call 800.662.8843, follow us on Twitter @LawyersMutualNC, connect on our LinkedIn page, like us on Facebook

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