E-mail Management for Lawyers
by Patricia Jordan
Are you overwhelmed with e-mail and spam? You are not alone. I receive dozens of messages daily and often find e-mail difficult to manage. Statistics released by MessageLabs (messagelabs.com) in September identified the global ratio of spam in e-mail traffic was 67.6 per cent or 4 in every 6 e-mails sent were identified as spam. The global ratio of e-mail-borne viruses in e-mail traffic was 1.9 per cent, or 1 in 41 e-mails contained a virus.
If you maintain an e-mail address, your clients and colleagues will want to communicate with you via e-mail. Regardless of how small or large your firm is, they will expect a quick response. Many firms use basic programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes to manually respond to messages. If you use Microsoft Outlook, I suggest you use the Rules Wizard to organize and process your messages more efficiently. Setting up a new rule is easy. Rules are a set of conditions, actions, and exceptions that process and organize messages automatically. Once you create a rule, Outlook will apply a rule’s criteria to messages as they arrive in your inbox.
As CBABC webmaster, I am also the moderator for CBABC listservs and the recipient of dozens of listserv messages. The Rules Wizard has been invaluable for organizing and sorting e-mail I receive on a daily basis. The simplest way to create a rule is to base it on a message.
First, create a new folder in your inbox for messages with a particular topic in the subject header or a specific recipient. For the Women Lawyers Forum (WLF) listserv, I created a folder entitled “BC WLF listserv” in my inbox.
Second, in Outlook right-click on the message you want to base a rule, then click “Create Rule” and follow the instructions in the Rules Wizard. The WLF listserv recipient display name is BC Women Lawyers Forum Listserv. I used this recipient display name to create my rule and move all messages with this display name to the BC WLF listserv folder. My “BC WLF listserv” rule looks like this in Outlook:
“Apply this rule after the message arrives with BC Women Lawyers Forum Listserv in the recipient’s address move it to the BC WLF listserv folder.”
The Rules Wizard can also be used to:
- move messages to a particular folder based on who sent them
- move certain kinds of messages, such as Out of Office messages, to another folder
- delete messages in a conversation
- flag messages from a particular person
- set up a notification, such as a message or a sound, when important messages arrive
- redirect a message to a person or to a distribution list
- ask the server to automatically reply to a certain type of message by using a message you’ve created
- assign categories to messages you send based on the contents of the messages
- delay delivery of messages by a specified amount of time
- start a program.
Site Du Jour
CBA PracticeLink at cba.org/cba/PracticeLink
Look in "Technology" for information on:
- Legal Practice and the Internet: Marketing Strategies
- Client Services in the Legal Information Age
- Network News
- Building a Better Website
- Using Technology for Efficiency, Less Stress and Increased Profits
- The Dirty Dozen
- Viruses, Hackers, and Spyware - Bandits on the Internet!
- Technology for the Solo, Home, and Mobile Office: Networking and Data Protection
- Technology for the Solo, Home or Mobile Office: Mobile Computing
- Focus on Electronic Authentication
- Security Alert
- Net Gain
- A Portal in Any Storm
- High-tech Hardware
- Connecting With Your Clients
Ask Yourself Before You Send an E-Mail
- Is the message really necessary?
- Would a telephone conversation or a meeting be quicker?
- Is the message clear and to the point?
- Are the recipients those who need to know?
- If this message got into the public domain, would I be embarrassed?
Tips for Dealing with E-mail Overload
- Do not use e-mail when a meeting would be more effective
- Avoid "e-mail conversations"
- Limit the amount of information in an e-mail
- Avoid trivial responses – it is not always necessary to respond
- Do not send too many CCs for information
- Avoid overusing e-mail outside normal work hours, especially to assign tasks or to make various requests
- Reduce the number of non-business e-mail
Patricia Jordan is the CBABC Manager, Interactive Media. She welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions. Tel: 604-646.7861 E-mail: email@example.com
This article was published in the December 2005 issue of BarTalk. © 2005 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.