Part Three of Best Email Practices for Lawyers

Third in a Five Part Series


Who are your top email offenders? That is, who are the people in your professional life who send you the most problematic email messages?

They’re easy to identify: Sort your inbox by Sender and see, first of all, who sends the most email by volume. Then, determine who sends the most email that’s lengthy, unclear, or unneeded (e.g., it’s forwarded or replied-to-all unnecessarily).

List your top five offenders. Then, determine the most important upgrade each person could make in their email behavior that would make your life easier. For one, it might be to stop using all caps when not needed. For another, it might be to stop using reply to all (or at least removing you from the reply list). For yet another, it might be refraining from the “wall of words” thought-dump and starting to use bullets to highlight their main points.

It should take you no more than 20 minutes to identify your targets and their problematic email habits. But what do you do next? You engage them in a conversation. You explain what you’re trying to accomplish.

Such conversations are often referred to as “email coaching” or “info coaching.” It’s nothing more than helping people become conscious of – and practice – better ways to do email. Of course, many people never confront their offenders due to the natural concern that that the offender will be defensive.

There’s no getting around that possibility, so go ahead: lean into your discomfort and just do it.

To help you overcome your reluctance, here’s a sample script. Modify it to fit your style and your circumstance.

Hey Pat –

I’ve been doing some reading about how much time email consumes and how to make it more efficient and effective. I’m starting to use a few techniques such as writing clearer subject lines and using bulleted lists with shorter, more concise paragraphs in the body of the message.

One of the suggestions I came across is to identify the people who send me the most email, and talk with each person individually about our email use – where we’re each effective, and where we could be more effective.

So, since you’re on my list, I’d like to spend 15 minutes or so sharing some of what I’ve learned. I’m pretty sure you’ll find some of these techniques quite beneficial; I’ve already found that they save me significant time.

I will call you on _____ to get our calendars together and set a time. Thanks.

Remember, becoming time savvy isn’t just a matter of controlling your own behavior; it also involves helping others with whom you frequently interact become more efficient and effective too.

Read Part One of Best Email Practices for Lawyers.
Read Part Two of Best Email Practices for Lawyers.

About the Author

Bill Jawitz, Law Firm Coach and Consultant

Bill Jawitz has been coaching lawyers to become more profitable and enjoy a higher quality of life since 2002.

He can be reached at or at 203.806.1300.

I maintain a deep library of hundreds of best-of-breed checklists, templates, guides, and white papers on every aspect of managing a legal practice and law firm, from lawyer marketing plans, to hiring process checklists, to alternative fee engagement letters.

If you need a quick resource, call me. I’ll send you what I have on the topic free of charge with no strings.

Call for a free consultation (203) 806-1300

Want to learn more?

Have a question? Looking for a Just-In-Time Resource?

Contact Bill Now