June 01, 2006 at 3:05 PM
Out of the Jungle recently featured an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled, "It’s All About Me: Why E-Mails Are So Easily Misunderstood." The article notes that the lack of facial cues and body language can make it quite difficult to determine whether the person who sent you a short e-mail is annoyed with you or just really, really busy. E-mail is particularly tricky for attorneys -- in addition to worrying about whether their e-mails strike the right tone with important clients and with finicky supervisors, attorneys also have to worry about protecting attorney-client privilege and client confidentiality. I would encourage those who are just beginning the practice of law to review Stephen Armstrong and Timothy Terrell’s recent article, "The Perils of E-mail," in the Spring 2006 issue of Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing (I’ll provide a link as soon as West loads this journal onto its website!). Terrell and Armstrong give new lawyers a number of valuable tips on sending effective and appropriate e-mails to colleagues and clients. And for those of you still in school, you may want to check out this New York Times article and a few professor blog entries about student e-mails from LawCulture, Discourse.net, and PrawfsBlawg.