In order to solidify their place within their firms, young attorneys need to focus on building positive reputations early on. Communication can form the cornerstone of that reputation so it is important to approach both written and verbal communication carefully. This is the first of two posts addressing communications; later this week we will discuss verbal communication.
Internal communications can provide supervisors with a glimpse of how young associates might interact with clients. While generational differences can inform communication style, the practice of law is first and foremost a business, with an attendant formality that needs to be acknowledged and embraced.
In a work setting, all communications such as memos, emails and texts communications should be business appropriate. It is all too easy to undermine an otherwise positive reputation through a hastily written or improperly addressed email or an overly informal text. With rapidly changing technology, good practices take on even greater significance, particularly as associates are trying to make an immediate, positive impression on partners and other senior attorneys with whom they are working.
We recommend some key rules to follow:
1. Draft documents using unambiguous language, free of mistakes.
2. Proof documents, including emails and texts so that they are free of grammatical errors or typos.
3. Avoid abbreviations to ensure clarity and understanding.
4. Add recipients to emails in order of seniority.
5. Avoid texting with senior attorneys until they indicate that texting is an acceptable/preferred mode of communication.
6. Resist replying immediately to a text or email if doing so will sacrifice quality. Better to delay a reply than send a poorly reasoned or loosely crafted response.
7. Omit anything in an email or text that you would not want forwarded to another recipient.
8. Use “reply all” or “bcc” only when absolutely necessary.
9. Convey maturity, intelligence, trustworthiness, and reliability in all your written communications.