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Surviving the e-mail onslaught

25 June 2003

Netiquette
The first point is to use proper "netiquette". Why there is a need for this neologism defeats me, nevertheless, it includes the following:

  • Use proper spelling and grammar.
  • Exercise good manners and politeness.
  • Don't use e-mails when it is inappropriate - e-mail is not the same as a phone or face-to-face conversation. The mode of communication must fit the circumstance.
  • Count to ten before you hit "Send" and tone down the e-mail if you are responding to an aggressive e-mail.
  • Don't "cc" people or use group mail unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • As a general rule, don't reply to Spam. By doing so you confirm your e-mail address, which results in more Spam being sent to you.
Avoid in-box overload
Organise your in-box. Like a desk, it will fill up with clutter and sooner or later you will miss something important. Use the "Rules" features of your e-mail programme and create sub-folders where you can review them at leisure.

Remember that e-mails are attorney/client communications
Falling somewhere between phone calls and letters, use your judgment on whether to store e-mails electronically or keep printed copies in a proper client file.

E-mail confidentiality and encryption
Client confidentiality must be maintained and attorneys should understand how to minimize the risks of disclosure, discovery or interception of such information. Discuss these matters with your clients and ideally get permission to use e-mail for communicating with them.

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