Attorney Email Etiquette You Can't Afford to Ignore

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on October 17, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

No matter how small your firm is, you probably use email to communicate which means you have some etiquette concerns.

The recipients aren't just your friends. They're your coworkers and more importantly your bosses.

Email between friends one thing but email at the office reflects on you professionally. That means you can't get away with the grammar and spelling errors that may invade your normal email.

It also means you need to be careful about how you come across when you make your response.

So let's go over some key points of email etiquette.

  • Check your spelling and grammar. This should go without saying but don't misspell anything or switch 'there' with 'they're.' Most email functions have a basic spell check you can use to catch the obvious errors. For more important emails, don't dismiss the idea of using Word to check yourself.

  • Don't forget the salutation and closing. Professional emails should follow the proper form. Start with 'dear' or 'good afternoon' and close with your name. Every time. It may seem unnecessary to continue doing it but it makes the email professional and that makes you more professional.

  • Be concise. Email is not the place for a long explanation. If it takes more 10 lines to say then you should say it in person and make an appointment to talk about it via email. Keep it short and sweet.

  • Skip the reply-all. Office emails often get sent out to large groups but the group doesn't need to hear that you got the message. There are almost no circumstances where you need to reply-all if the list is longer than five people. Always double check that you are only replying to the sender.

  • Wait before responding. Lawyers are often on tight deadlines but sending an email right away can backfire in a big way. If you get an important email take at least 10 minutes to organize your thoughts before you respond. The delay won't make you look bad but skipping it might.

Email etiquette is a delicate art. Make sure you master it.

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