Lawyers

A Lawyer’s Guide To Email At Work

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166186910Implementing new technology into the operation of your law practice can be good business. You can use Evernote to take better depositions and better organize case load; social media can help win new clients through referrals and new leads; practice management software can make day to day operations run smoother. Nonetheless, it’s also true that a truly tech-savvy firm also is a master of even the most fundamental pieces of technology, such as email.

While many might think they are email experts, here are a few tricks to make sure you maximize its benefit for your firm:

Create a Custom Email Domain

One of the first steps when creating an online presence for a new practice should be registering a domain name for your website, and, simultaneously, creating a domain for your email address. You want to create an email address that matches your firms name or web address: you@yourlawfirm.com.

There are a number of reasons that I recommend this. First, a custom email domain presents the appearance of professionalism when corresponding with clients, potential clients, opposing counsel and experts. Second, because this email address will be made widely available to the public, a separate custom work email account allows you to keep your personal email account private.

There’s no need to be concerned about the nuisance of having to check multiple email accounts (your personal and your private) because it’s easy in most email providers to create a forward to pass along email from one account to another.

Make It Easy To Find

Once you’ve created a custom email address for business use, you want to make sure it’s easy to find: post it prominently on your firm’s website; add it to your business card; include it on your letterhead; and place it alongside the rest of your contact information on all pleadings and briefs (unless doing so conflicts with any local rules for formatting).

These days most people prefer to communicate via email, and by making your email address easy to find, it is easier for opposing counsel, the court, clients, colleagues and potential clients to connect with you.

Use It Often

After setting up your new email account, be sure to use it often. Occasionally, I connect with potential clients over the phone or in person simply so we can take stock of one another through a more personal medium. But I prefer to communicate substantive information via email as much as possible so that there is a written record of important information including the context of that information.

When communicating with clients or expert witnesses, having a written record of important discussions reduces the opportunity for misunderstandings or future disagreements. It also provides a written record of important information that I can review once I begin work on a new project.

When using it with opposing counsel it also creates a written record of our discussions in the event that a forgetful (or unscrupulous) attorney misrepresents our discussions to a fact finder. I’m sad to say that I’ve had that occur on more than one occasion in my career, and in both situations I was able to prove my side of events by producing relevant email exchanges.

Ultimately, a good old custom email address can prove to be a valuable asset and productivity tool for any law practice. You just need to set it up properly and use it often. Do you have any good common-sense tips for using email in your law practice? We’d love to hear them in the comments section.

About Matthew Hickey

Matthew is an entertainment attorney, blogger and music enthusiast. Having previously worked as an attorney in law firms both large and small, and now as a practicing solo attorney, Matthew believes that there has never been a better time to start a solo practice or small firm. By utilizing social media and new technology, small firms and solo attorneys can surpass their large firm counterparts in terms of marketing and providing clients with efficient, reliable legal services at affordable rates. When he isn’t wearing his “lawyer hat” he is humble-bragging about his extensive vinyl collection over at the food and music website Turntable Kitchen.
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