10 Email Etiquette Tips for Paralegals

I figure what’s good for the large firm lawyer is good for the any-size firm paralegal, too. Plus, I’m pretty sure I send more email during the day than anybody on my team, in no small part because I hate to talk on the phone, voice mail message systems with more than two numerical choices make me crazy, and I like to have evidence for future motions documentation of my communications.

Here’s my take on TechnoLawyer Blog’s article “BigLaw: Top 10 Email Etiquette Tips for Large Firm Lawyers”:

Love is kinda icky in an email.
  1. Subject Line: Reference the recipient’s claim or file number in the subject line. A subject line is not the place to show off your wit – you want the recipient to find the right matter and respond ASAP. Give the recipient the information right from the get-go that he or she needs to help you.
  2. Spelling: Try [real hard] to spell the recipient’s name correctly in the salutation. Don’t use the recipient’s first name unless you actually are on a first name basis. I like to use “Hi, Ms. Jones” – but some folks love the more formal “Dear Ms. Jones”.
  3. Sign-off: The perfect sign-off makes me crazy. For a long time I used “Best” until I read an article that suggested it’s weird and incomplete. Then I saw an article last week that said “Best” is awesome and just the right touch for the more informal email. Until the issue is resolved conclusively by Miss Manners or Stephen Colbert, I’m sticking to that safe default “Best Regards”.
  4. Attachments: If you write “I am attaching a copy of [insert document]” – actually attach it. Also, take the extra 15 seconds to open it and verify it’s the attachment you intend to send. Trust me, it’s worth the extra 15 seconds to look smart and not accidentally send sensitive information to the wrong person.
  5. Personal Mass Email: According to this article, sending a mass email to all of your co-workers asking for a DUI lawyer referral for your “friend” is not only uncool, but everyone will assume it’s you anyway. Since I work in SmallLaw and a “mass” email reaches 15 peeps tops in our firm, I will defer this issue to my BigLaw readers. (If we need a DUI lawyer, we discreetly step inside the office of our resident criminal law attorney and shut the door.)
  6. Signature: Use a professional signature that your supervising attorney has seen and approved. I disagree with the suggestion not to include your email address because it’s supposed to be redundant. I’m always surprised by the number of people that ask for an email address WHEN IT’S RIGHT THERE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL. Also, leave the flowers, Bible scriptures, and those oh-so-adorable “love is…” pics off your work email. IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T FIGURED IT OUT, THEY ARE NOT WEARING CLOTHES.
  7. Text Abbreviations: No one cares if you’re hip, “with it,” or broke a texting speed record. Don’t use text abbreviations in your professional email, even if it’s INAL (I am not a lawyer).  Using text abbreviations makes you look like a SNERT (snot-nosed egotistical rude teenager).
  8. Return receipt: Don’t turn it on, because it makes me want to break your fingers. If you want confirmation that your email was read, ask for it. This simple request really works: “Please acknowledge receipt of this email and the attached documents.” This is also great evidence for your motion documentation for the file.
  9. Recalls: Recalls are a myth. There are no take-backs in email. Think hard before hitting send. Also, proofread carefully, and use your spelling and grammar check feature.
  10. Personal Email from Work Account: If you want to send a personal email from work, remember your work computer is not really yours, and your boss never promised not to read your email. If you think you’ll bust a gut if you can’t send a personal email during the work day, use your smart phone or at least log into your personal Gmail account.

I would love to hear readers’ email etiquette tips, especially your chosen salutations and sign-offs for professional email.

Source: TechnoLawyer Blog

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