Email Etiquette for Lawyers

emailetiquetteIn the Fall 2014 issue of the New York State Bar Association’s Senior Lawyer issue, Judge Gerald Lebovits wrote an article, providing veteran and novice lawyers advice about email etiquette.  Some tips include:

1)  Use Reply All carefully.  Horror stories abound of individuals who have insulted others by carelessly using reply all.

2)  If the conversation turns into a confrontation, stop emailing.  Pick up the phone or walk down the hall and talk to the person.

3)  Don’t use emoticons, 🙂,  or ALL CAPS.

4)  Provide a concise subject line for your reader so that the reader knows exactly what the email is about.  This helps prevent it from getting lost in the flood of emails that flow into your reader’s inbox on an hourly basis.

5)  Be clear, precise and organized.  Don’t waste your reader’s time.

6)  Greet your reader (Dear, Hello, Good morning) and sign your email, (Best, Cordially.)

7)  Ask a writer if you can forward their email before forwarding.  However don’t expect everyone to ask your permission to forward your email.  Write as though you expect anything written to be shared with others. Don’t write and send anything that you wouldn’t want to appear on the front page of the New York Times.

8)  Use your Out of Office assistant when away so that your correspondents aren’t surprised when you don’t immediately respond.

9)  Manage your email.  Read, handle, delete or file.  Try to touch an email only once.

10)  Include a signature block with your name, title, organization, email address, organizational address, phone and fax numbers.

Hat Tip:  Legal Skills Prof Blog

About Lisa Smith-Butler

Lisa is the Associate Dean for Information Services at the Charleston School of Law, Sol Blatt Jr. Law Library. She teaches Advanced Legal Research & Children & the Law.
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