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A Positive Reminder About Negative E-Mails

May 26, 2009 By: Reid Category: Coping with E-mail, Firm Management & Operations

Our friend and ABA colleague, Tom Grella, took a moment to share the following e-mail tip with us this week. More than an e-mail tip, it is sound guidance on helping to maintain law firm collegiality.  Tom says he’s not sure where he first came across this, but it has been a handy reminder taped to the corner of his computer monitor for a few years:

In general a positive tone is good – a negative, overly critical or unconstructive tone is not. The following are specific examples of undesirable behavior:
1. Needless, one or two word responses (such as ditto, right on, yea or I agree), or responses that are clearly directed toward one member, not the membership at large, and directed at another inappropriate email by someone else.
2. Direct comments about other attorneys or staff that are abusive, derogatory or defamatory.
3. Comments that could be reasonably interpreted to be malicious in intent toward any other attorney or staff member.
4. Unnecessarily or intentionally negative or unconstructive tone in comments, opinions or suggestions about the firm, or any of its attorneys or staff.
5. Comments that are divisive with intent to segregate or polarize attorneys or staff.
6. Statements with blatant, malicious, unsubstantiated inaccurate or deceptive information.
7. Unsubstantiated comments, negative or positive, about staff or attorneys.

Thanks, Tom. We all can use this reminder of the power of e-mail as a quick and often unretractable form of communication. Unfortunately, the reminder was not in time for a first-year associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges last week who, according to the ABA Journal, could have benefited from it taped to his monitor!

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