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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of March 10, 2015

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Most of us have "fixed ideas." It's generally because of these unalterable ideas, even in the face of contrary evidence, that we have conflict, alienate friends and colleagues, and even increase the occurrence of divorces. Most important, however, as attorneys we fail to see possible options that would make acceptable solution for both sides. A great negotiator once told me that he first must determine what the "bottom line" is for his client and for the adversary, not the "posturing" position. Then, he most often can find options that works for both sides. What a concept! This is an attorney who can bring two sides together, both of whom are reasonably pleased with the outcome.

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E-Mail: Taking the Snail out of Mail

The real power of the Internet has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with people. When we think of it in that way, if the Internet were nothing more than e-mail, that would be enough. E-mail enables communication among people so that they can stay in touch, build professional relationships, and help one another. It makes our interpersonal communications vastly more convenient and efficient. People send and respond to messages to suit their schedules; no more telephone tag. And, of course, e-mail is probably the best form of communication between people who are physically far apart.

Despite some lingering complaints about e-mail—it's too impersonal, people like to hear the voice of the other person, it's too difficult to type a conversation—not many can deny that it is the communication method of choice for lawyers. Let's review some of its uses and benefits.

Communicating with Clients
When initially interviewing new clients, good questions to ask include the following: "How do you prefer to conduct your communications?" "Do you have e-mail?" "Would you prefer that I e-mail updates on the progress of your matter?" This tells clients that you care about how they do business (without forcing them into your communications mold).

During this conversation, you also should bring up expectations of e-mail response time. Clients should not expect you to respond within minutes after they send you an electronic message; they must allow you adequate time to receive the e-mail and review the issue or question. If you manage their expectations, they will be reasonable and more patient in waiting for your response.

Connecting with Colleagues

The same considerations are appropriate in dealing with colleagues. Ask if e-mail is an acceptable or preferred method of communicating with them about cases, internal firm matters, and similar issues. You might also inquire about whether they have a typical, or preferred, time for communicating about nonpriority issues. Many lawyers are so busy during the day that they respond to e-mails in the evening. This avoids "small talk," which, in turn, saves valuable practice time.

Fewer Delays
Of course, e-mail is a great way to transmit documents without the delays inherent in transporting them by air or land. With today's quality computer applications, the transmission of documents via electronic media is secure (though some might argue this point) and much faster than by any other method. Lawyers in different parts of the country or the world can now receive, review, and make changes to documents and get them back to the sender or to other recipients on the same day.

Staying in Touch Through LISTSERVs
With e-mail discussion lists, or LISTSERVs, information is passed from one person to the rest of the group by e-mail; logging onto a website is not required. This method is perfect for those who are busy: while LISTSERVs can generate a lot of electronic traffic, lawyers who do not have the time or inclination to read or respond to all of the messages need only hit the Delete key. They can scan the subject lines and participate selectively as their time and interests permit.

SoloSez, originally created by the ABA General Practice Section, is an excellent example of a LISTSERV with lawyers talking to each other all over the world. The price of admission is zero. The conversation goes from the mundane (food recipes) to important issues of the day to the practical side of law, including referrals.

In communicating with others, building progressive relationships with colleagues and clients, and becoming more productive in our practices, e-mail is a powerful tool that provides key benefits to all lawyers.


E-Mail: Taking the Snail out of Mail

LawBiz® Registry: Buy or Sell Your Practice

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"Ed's command of the podium and his connection and interaction with the audience were outstanding. His skills enabled us to successfully implement a new culture into the organization without damaging our relationships with outside counsel."

Torrance, CA

"When I had my own private practice as a solo practitioner, I wanted to run my office as efficiently and profitably as possible. I researched business coaches and discovered that most had "passive" models as their basis for coaching, i.e. they would promise all the things they would do for my practice without my having to invest time and energy into the process. I'm so glad I chose Ed Poll instead, for he had an "active" model, i.e. how much I got out of the coaching was directly dependent upon what I put into it. Over a period of six months, Ed conferenced with me and gave me weekly assignments for structuring my practice as well as giving me tips on how to work with clients from the initial interview through to the end of the case. After working with Ed, I didn't have a single outstanding account receivable over $500. The time I spent working with Ed was invaluable and I would recommend him to any attorneys interested in improving the quality and profitability of their practices."

Los Angeles, CA


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |   |


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