Professor Laura Graham writes in the ABA Young Lawyer: “Before You Click “Send” E-mail best practices for Lawyers”
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ABA Young Lawyer
December 5, 2011
For most attorneys, e-mail is a staple of law practice. In fact, in a recent survey of lawyers conducted by the ABA, 97 percent of attorneys said they used e-mail for routine correspondence, and over 70 percent said they used it for case status reports, memoranda, and briefs. Do these attorneys always take care to craft effective, error-free, and professional e-mails before they click “send”? Or do their e-mails sometimes reflect a rush to meet a deadline, a perception that e-mail isn’t “real writing,” or even instances of unprofessionalism, all of which can negatively impact them and their clients?
Attorneys can’t afford to view e-mail as an informal form of communication that warrants less time and attention than other legal documents. The recipients of your e-mails are evaluating your credibility, as well as your employer’s credibility, based on the quality and tone of your e-mails. This is true whether the e-mail contains a summary of a complex legal analysis or a three-line answer to a straightforward question. The quality and tone of our e-mails also tell our readers how we think of them; we can’t risk sending the message that we don’t respect them by writing e-mails that are too casual or too sloppy.
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