Lawyers, Don't Rush to Respond to Every Email

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on February 16, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You like to get back to colleagues quickly. You don't like things piling up. You're aiming for the legendary "Inbox Zero." So when you get an email, you reply ASAP.

Maybe you shouldn't. Taking a few seconds before clicking a link, opening a file, or hitting reply could keep you from getting hacked.

Don't Get Caught by Phishers

A 2015 Verizon study looked at responses to 150,000 emails and found that corporate lawyers were the easiest to phish.

Why's that? Perhaps it's because lawyers like to respond quickly -- and they believe that they can pretty easily spot a fraud.

But this combination of speed and overconfidence makes them easy targets for phishing schemes. Phishing is a form of email fraud whereby a message appears legitimate in order to steal your personal information. Think of an email supposedly from your bank, for example, asking you to reset your passwords, or an email from a colleague with "important documents" attached. You click a link or download a file and suddenly your information has been compromised.

How to Spot an Email Fraud

Taking a more cautious approach to email can help you counteract phishing risks. Here are some ways you can identify a potential phishing email:

1. Check out the links. If your email says it's from Bank of America and the link is to, it's not legit. Some links will be misleading, too, so read the whole thing. You don't want to go to Hover over any links to see where they'll direct you.

2. Watch for spelling and grammar. A lot of phishing emails will pretend to be from official sources, major banks, retailers, even your CEO. Those sorts of emails wouldn't have awkward phrasing, poor grammar, or major typos.

3. Be aware that you could be targeted as a lawyer. Some recent phishing scams have been directed specifically at lawyers, such as one email telling lawyers that a complaint has been filed against them. If an email involves your life or your money, treat it seriously and cautiously.

4. Excessive urgency and threats are a red flag. If any email is telling you that you must download, go to, or send something right this very minute -- well, you might want to view it with some suspicion.

Finally, if you think an email is suspicious, investigate it on your own -- outside of your inbox. Did a colleague email you files you never asked for? Call them up and make sure those files are legit. Did the bank say you need to change your password to protect your account? Go to the bank's website on your own, instead of clicking any links.

A little extra time and a little extra vigilance can help protect you from scams.

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