Let's face it. From time to time, all of us in IT wonder whether our carefully crafted e-mails to attorneys go straight to the recycle bin. Attorneys complain that messages from IT are too long, don't get to the point, contain unfamiliar jargon, aren't timely, and/or aren't relevant to them or their practice.
So what are lawyers looking for in e-mail?
* Meaningful subject line
* Main point in first paragraph, followed by necessary supplemental information
* Use of conversational English!
* Clarity, accuracy, timeliness and relevance
Attorneys are inundated with hundreds of e-mail every day and don't open up each one. What are the characteristics of a winning subject line?
* Be brief, but not cryptic. "Software upgrade" only tells part of the story. "Software upgrade on Friday, 7/20/07" is better. Avoid vague subject lines, such as "FYI," "Problem," or "Issue."
* Represent, don't mislead. If your subject line announces a system outage, the message itself shouldn't discuss the entire software strategy for the year.
* One topic, one subject. Don't jam a plethora of unrelated topics into a brief e-mail and then try to encompass the contents in a catch-all subject line. Instead, send separate e-mail for separate topics.
* Keyword introductions. Use triggers to preface your subject lines. For example: "REQUIRED: Please reboot your computer in the morning." This is a cue to your reader that an action is needed on their part.
* Thread changes. As e-mail conversations proceed, the original subject sometimes gets superseded. Consider changing the subject line when the thread changes topics on your next reply or forward.
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By: Tony Ranalli