Five Email Mistakes You’ve Been Making

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Sturdy roof, dry house and maybe a bucket or two: pretty much standard for preparing for a flood, right? The good news is that unless you’re extremely unlucky, you won’t have to battle any floods anytime soon. A flooded inbox? That’s a different story.

The average lawyer receives 120 emails per day and, however daunting this may be, you can’t afford to drown. Even a small email mistake can breach client confidentiality and potentially damage your reputation as a lawyer. Learn the necessary precautions to take when you experience your next inbox flood. Here are five common email mistakes legal professionals make.

Emailing the Wrong Person

Double-checking the email recipient may seem obvious, but on heavy inbox days, it’s possible to let this task slip through the cracks. Avoid this at all costs. Sending the wrong email in the legal profession will not only be perceived as incompetent but could give access to personal and confidential information that can be considered a serious security breach. While email auto-fill is next to unavoidable, make sure you double-check before you make a mistake you can’t take back.

Using Email instead of the Phone

Email can be a life-saver when you need to send a quick response or a text-heavy message, but sometimes nothing is better than reaching out over the phone. Email has a tendency to become impersonal quickly, and with the influx of lawyers, personal connections are becoming more and more important. Email is a great tool, but if you’ve started to forget the person’s voice (or worse, never heard it at all), it may be time to pick up the phone.

Bad Subject Lines

If an email falls in an inbox and no one’s there to read it, does it make a sound? Well, you get the idea. If your subject line isn’t compelling and your recipient doesn’t open it, your email is useless and you might as well not have written it at all. Make sure your subject line is compelling enough to open and specific enough to elicit a time-sensitive response.

Wrong Tone

Writing in the wrong tone can be detrimental in the legal profession. Some instances require you to be formal, while some are better handled more casually. For this reason, having a good grasp on your audience is crucial when deciding what tone to use. Instead of relying on guesswork to nail the tone, try mimicking past emails to get a feel of what your client or colleague is likely to respond to.

Delayed Send

Need to follow up with someone at the end of the day and don’t want to send too early — or worse, forget? Try using the delayed send feature. Not using the delayed send feature is one of the top mistakes professionals use in the workplace. In many cases, emails only make sense at a certain point in the day. By using this feature, your emails will always be ready to be read at the time when you’re ready to write them.

After reviewing common mistakes legal professionals make, you are now prepared to navigate your email flood with ease. Good luck!


By |October 20th, 2015|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.