December 18, 2014
Email is by far the most popular form of communication in the world. Even legal experts rely on email on a daily basis to communicate with everyone from clients to the people they work with in the court system to the media. For most people, communication through email is simply a fact of life and one that people have come to accept as convenient and generally beneficial.
However, when you’re conducting legal business through email, it’s important to remember your manners and etiquette. After all, email correspondence is still professional correspondence, and you don’t have the same comfort level when you send an email to a professional colleague or client like you do with a friend or family member.
That’s where email gets tricky. It started as a more casual way for people to communicate, but now it is very much part of the business world. For that reason, it’s essential that you make sure your email etiquette is professional.
Even if you think you know everything there is to know about email etiquette, make sure you review this guide and these 7 email etiquette tips that legal experts simply shouldn’t miss.
1. Subject Lines Matter
It may not seem like an etiquette issue to you, but subject lines in an email are essential if you want the reader to know what you’re talking about, and in some cases, who you are. If you don’t put a subject line in your email, it’s kind of like saying you don’t value the person’s time, and they can wade through the content to figure out who you are or why you’re emailing them in the first place.
Always include a subject line that’s well thought out and concise when emailing somebody from a work address.
2. Be Concise
When you’re sending an email for work, you need to make sure you don’t beat around the bush and waste people’s time by saying too much. You want to get your point across, but you don’t want to take too long to do it.
If you have to, revise emails once or twice to make them concise, particularly if you’re dealing with somebody you don’t email regularly. Contacts you email frequently may look past a few unnecessary words, but new people will notice and feel like their time is being wasted.
3. Include Contact Information
Writing an email for work means; following the same basic professional format every single time. That means including your contact information no matter what you’re doing.
Ideally, you should have your contact information automatically pasted at the bottom of your email. That way you won’t have to think about typing it out, this can be pretty time consuming.
Not including your contact information can make it difficult for individuals you email to respond to you.
4. Make One Point, Make It Well
Emails that you send for work shouldn’t be long-winded. In fact, you should really only limit each email to a single point that you need to make. Only in rare cases, you should include multiple issues in the same email.
If you do include too many points in an email you’re likely to not get all of the answers you want while overwhelming people you’re corresponding with.
5. Focus on Good Grammar
Business emails need to be concise and to the point. They also need to have good grammar and punctuation.
While you aren’t writing an essay for school, you do need to take the time to make sure you don’t have lots of spelling or punctuation mistakes in your communications. Running programs like spell check will help, but you also need to go back and reread everything you write. At the very least, scan your short emails so that they don’t arrive garbled and hard to understand.
6. Be Brief
Emails you send for work can’t be too long unless you’re trying to convey a long-term plan. In most case, your emails should be a paragraph or two at most.
If you need to explain a very difficult concept, an email may not be the way to do it. Address that in your email instead of cramming the body with text.
7. Respond Quickly
Replying to emails doesn’t take too long, so don’t make senders wait in an inordinate amount of time. It’s obvious that you may not be able to get to every email in a few minutes, but most emails should get a response in the same business day or early the next morning.
Colleen Jilio-Ryan is the Owner of Jilio-Ryan, a Tustin based premiere law consulting firm. The firm along with its certified court reporters is dedicated to providing the highest quality deposition and litigation services to attorneys, insurance companies, and corporations. With her sincere efforts, Colleen is committed to meeting the highest standards of the legal industry, and is an industry leader when it comes to on-time court reporting and deposition scheduling.
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