Email is a great way to quickly and easily communicate with clients and colleagues about a legal matter, but if not managed effectively, email can become a productivity killer for your practice.
There are a few things every law firm can do to improve email management:
Use Practice Management Software
Every lawyer should utilise email management software tools that seamlessly integrate with email programs, such as Outlook. Legal software such as Smokeball, make it easy to sort and search matter related emails without having to sift through the inbox. Many businesses report that they shave significant time spent on administrative tasks simply because they’re using an email management tool. That saving on time is money available for billable tasks.
If you want to get the most out of your email management tool, get training so that you understand how to access all of its features. The more you know about how to best use your software tool, they better you be at managing your inbox.
Change communication platforms
Some lawyers rely heavily on email to communicate with clients and colleagues but sometimes it’s better to utilise other tools such as a secure file sharing and messaging app or even a phone call. Often times following long email threads, especially if it involves many different people, can be difficult if not impossible. And if an email thread gets complicated enough, following it might actually decrease your productivity. The more you limit email use to only those issues where it makes sense to communicate via email, the less time you will spend sorting through your inbox.
Prioritise Your Messages
Email messages can create a pileup in your inbox when you’ve failed to act on actionable items immediately. To avoid this issue, you should tag messages as “take action now” and “no action needed.” On those items that you tag as “take action now,” you should schedule a specific date (and time) when you will take action on the item. Remember, tagging actionable items won’t be helpful if you don’t also schedule a time when you will take action.
Do It Once or Twice a Day
Checking your email inbox more than once or twice a day is a big waste of time. It’s better to choose a specific time to check your email once or twice a day. You should also limit how much time you’re spending on email so that you don’t end up wasting an hour sorting through low-priority or spam messages. Once you limit the time you’re allowed to spend on email, you will get the more important things done.
Share Your System
Once you create an effective email management system, share it with your support staff. Legal secretaries, and receptionists can all benefit from having effective email management tools especially if they’re responsible for managing the inboxes of others such as an attorney they support. Even if your support staff doesn’t manage the inboxes of others, giving them access to good email management tools and showing them how to leverage them effectively will save them time on routine administrative tasks and will ultimately save the law firm money and increase productivity.
If your law firm wants to improve email management processes, utilising the right legal practice management software tools is critical but so is learning the tricks of tackling priority versus non-priority messages.