microsoft outlook

Microsoft Outlook for Legal Professionals

The Email Problem

Email Overload

Studies indicate that lawyers receive around 120 and send roughly 40 emails per day. Without question, email is one of the most important technological communication advancements of the past 100 years. It has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with clients and do business. Major corporations and law firms are run via email communication instead of face-to-face communication.

For lawyers, emails present a wide array of issues that most of the business world and ordinary consumers will never face. In this seminar, we will discuss these issues and teach you how best to deal with them.

These issues or problems range from ethical considerations to email overload and time-management. While there is no perfect solution, there are many methods to effectively handle email.

The first step to any problem is to understand the problems that exist. We must get our arms around all the email issues that face lawyers. The second step is to isolate each problem and tackle each problem, without forgetting how that might affect other email problems. For instance, controlling spam email may prevent you from getting an important email from a client if your spam filter inadvertently catches an email from a client. In other words, when you solve one problem, it may open up a different can or worms.

Torrent of Interruptions

In an eight (8) hour work day, if we receive 100 emails, that equates to receiving one email every 4.8 minutes. Sound familiar? It should, because that is the world most of us live in. Combine that with instant messages, phone calls and what I call email curiosity interruptions, that equates to one interruption every 2-3 minutes! What can you do to minimize the distraction? Take the following quick survey:

1. Interruption Survey:

  • Average number of Emails you get per day:
  • Average number of Instant messages per day:
  • Average number of phone calls you get each day:
  • Average number of curiosity email or internet breaks each day
  • Total Interruptions Per Day:

2. Other Questions To Ask Yourself:

  • How many times do you look at your email each day?
  • What percentage of interruptions really need immediate attention?
  • Has technology simplified your life?
  • Is Technology the Slave or the Master?

Email Storage

What do we do with all of this email? There are several problems related to this:

  • How should you archive old email?
  • How do you deal with attachments and keep from losing them?
  • How do you search for old conversations quickly and efficiently?
  • How do you keep your email but not run out of server space? Why does the IT person keep telling you that you have too much email in your inbox and you’re clogging up the server?

Too Much Legitimate Email to Deal With Effectively

Many people simply receive more email than they can read and keep up with. How do you sort, store and track all of this email?

No Expectation of Privacy

The old saying goes: You should never send an email that would embarrass you were it to appear on the front page of tomorrow’s paper. Is there anything you can do to create an expectation of privacy?

Spam Getting Through

There are lots of ways to avoid SPAM, and yet it still manages to get into our mailboxes. What can you do about it?

Are You Using Outlook Effectively?

Probably not. Although millions of people use Outlook, most do not use all of its functionality to their advantage. In this seminar, we’ll give you some great tips for making better use of Outlook.

Email Storage Problems

Disorganization

Many legal users have hundreds or thousands of unrelated messages in their inboxes. This is equivalent to taking all of the paper out of your files and throwing it on the floor of the file room. The point is, if it’s not organized, then it’s mostly useless.

Storage Space Limitations

You may have been scolded by your IT folks about this. If you’re using Microsoft Exchange on your server, then it can get overloaded with the quantity of emails and attachments you keep in your inbox and Outlook folder structures. If you don’t have Exchange, then all of those emails (and contacts, and appointments and tasks) are stored in a PST file on your hard drive or the server. The bigger that database, the slower your computer will run. Of course, the database can also over-run your storage capacity.

No One Else Can See Your Email But You

In most cases, if you have an important client communication in Outlook, no one else in your office can see it. In many cases, lawyers want to share this information, but don’t know how to do it.

Difficulties Searching

Many people complain that it’s nearly impossible to efficiently search old emails for a particular conversation. What can you do to make this task easier?

Dealing with the Overload

Deal with Email at Set Times

The first problem that we want to deal with is the reduction of interruptions so one can be more focused and productive. After all, how on earth can anyone get anything done with an interruption every 2-3 minutes?

Ask yourself the following question: 10 years ago, would you have let someone walk in your office every 2-3 minutes offering to sell you a sexual enhancement product… or asking you for a favor? Of course you wouldn’t! So, why do you let it happen now with your email? Why do you drop everything that you are doing to read and/or respond to that email that just arrived?! You have invested thousands of dollars in this wonderful technology that is supposed to make you more efficient, but instead it has
created an interruption hotline going straight to your brain.

Some time management experts suggest checking email 2 times a day. While this may sound like a good plan, it is probably unrealistic. When email was just becoming popular, there wasn’t an expectation of that email would be dealt with immediately, so 2 times per day was probably okay. However, in today’s age that has changed to some degree. Entire companies communicate via email … it’s a way of life and the way everyone communicates. Checking email twice a day isn’t enough. I think 3-5 times a day is more realistic … more satisfying to senders … and just as important, will make it easier for you to prevent your inbox from growing out of control.

A good way to handle this is deal with email at the same time every day. For example, you could following this schedule and limit yourself to 10-15 minutes.

  1. Upon arrival at the office: 8:00 am
  2. Mid morning: 10:30 am
  3. After lunch: 12:30 pm
  4. Afternoon: 3:30 pm
  5. End of day: 5:00 pm
Learn more about the ABA Law Practice Division’s new book titles and their authors! You can find all of the Division’s books in the four core areas of management, marketing, finance, and, of, course, technology here.

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