Travelers – use of email

Email is now the principal method of communication for most businesses including lawyers and their clients and contacts. The risks are similar to those that lawyers have always faced with written communication but for email they are increased by the speed and informality with which it is used. 

How do you write your emails? 

When composing letters we tend to use traditional structures and slightly formal language. Many lawyers were taught that when writing a letter they should imagine it being read out in court. Few of us apply this to emails and we tend to use informal language in them and write as we would speak.

  • Never use abbreviations or slang in a business email
  • Beware of using humour or sarcasm; without vocal expression and tone of voice, comments can easily be misunderstood
  • If writing more than a few lines, consider drafting a letter and sending it as an attachment to the email instead
  • Write emails from the bottom upwards, not from the top down – in other words, write the text first, and then fill in the title and the recipient.

That way you are less likely to send an email before it is finished. Email is speedy and can lead to a very rapid exchange of correspondence over a short period of time. There is a tendency to feel that because someone has sent us an email, we should reply to it immediately. It may be better however to allow time to consider the issues before responding, particularly if you are working on another matter when the email arrives. There is no obligation to reply to an email as soon as it is received. Never reply to an email in anger, it is always better to wait until your feelings have cooled before responding to something that you consider rude or unfair.

Read the full guidance notes on the use of email here.

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