The Etiquette of Email
The Evil Side Effect of Lawyer Advertising: More Consumer Information

Have you considered dictating your emails?

In my previous post, I noted the rising problem etiquette in email.  I attribute this in part to text messaging, which, by its nature, kinds to be cryptic, short and almost painfully to the point. 

Virtually everyone who has an email account has a web version of that account.  We strongly recommend authorizing staff to access an attorney’s webmail account in order to send dictated email messages.  I would say that at least of 15% of all of my email is dictated, transcribed by staff and sent through my webmail account.

Dictating email has huge advantages.  First of all, it allows you to say more in a lot less time.  Second, you can dictate an email from anywhere that you have a portable recording device.  My Blackberry has built-in dictation.  I’m dictating this blog post into my phone, which will be auto-routed to my staff’s email account for transcription.  This allows me to work from anywhere and specifically to draft emails from anywhere. 

But the biggest advantage I think is that it allows you to be a lot more comprehensive when providing information to someone by email.  You could cover a many more issues in an email which you spend ten minutes dictating, then you can in an email you spent ten minutes typing yourself.

We include a disclaimer at the bottom of the email that the email was in fact dictated and transmitted by a staff member.  We believe that dictation is one of the most underutilized tools in virtually every law firm.  Digital dictation provides so many advantages over cassette tape dictation as we have previously noted, here, here and here.  The biggest problem is that many attorneys haven’t realized that dictation can handle a lot more than cover letters and pleadings.  It can be used to pass information onto to staff, to delegate tasks and even to draft email.  Have you considered leveraging dictation with your email technology? 


A paralegal

I've always been curious about this, but for obvious reasons I can't ask the lawyers for whom I work: what gives you the impression that dictation saves you time? From my perspective, it takes twice as long to dictate and transcribe as it does to just type your own documents and letters, as the information is being repeated twice. Why not just type your emails, letters and contracts yourself? Have you tried doing so and seeing how much time it actually takes, or are you just dictating because that's the way things have always been done, or because typing is "a secretary thing"?


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