When people speak to us, for the most part, we respond. If someone says hello, or asks a question, or asks us to get something done, we say hello back, or answer the question, or let them know we will work on it.
For reasons we at MM can’t quite understand, everybody handles their email correspondence differently. Emails are viewed as optional. Questionable choices are made about whether to respond, and how soon.
Since email correspondence has pretty much dominated every other form of communication, there is no basis for handling it as though it does not deserve the very same attention that a face-to-face conversation calls for.
1. Email Correspondence in a Business settings
In a legal practice setting, you will be expected to respond to emails in a timely and thorough manner. This is the perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are a diligent, impressive young legal expert, with minimal effort.
2. Your Email Responses
Responding to internal emails–that is, emails sent from colleagues in your office–within three hours at most. If you are delayed, for whatever reason, open your response email with an apology for the delay. If you have a good reason, state that, too (for example, you were busy working on something or another matter).
For external emails, you should always try to respond within the same day, if possible. Respond within 24 hours, without exception. If you are emailing with a client, it’s polite to respond to an email and acknowledge receipt, even if you cannot get back to the client on a substantive level yet. You might consider an email response that says, “Thank you for your email. I wanted to let you know I received your message and that will follow-up shortly. In the, meantime, if anything else comes up, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Easy job well done and it puts the client’s mind at ease.
3. On-going Email Correspondence
When a project involves significant email correspondence throughout, regard the correspondence as part of your substantive responsibility to the case, project, or deal. Be diligent in your responses. Just think–you’re building a record about the status of the case or project you’re working on, and you want that record to reflect that you’ve done an amazing job throughout.
Address each and every item set forth in every email you receive. Where you’re being asked to do a number of specific tasks, indicate in no uncertain terms that you’re taking care of each task. Itemize for clarity. If an email sets forth several questions, answer the email in full–that is, answer each question. Don’t address one or two and neglect the others. Leave nothing open ended. If necessary, create a brief internal outline for purposes of clarity in your response.
As email is a common form of correspondence in most business practices, if your email habits are solid, this is an easy way to instill confidence and demonstrate that you are a reliable, contributing member of your team.