October 24, 2014

Ross Guberman: Electronic Bliss – Write Better Emails

How many emails are sent in the U.S. each year? 2.3 trillion.

How many emails does a typical large law firm see in a day? 500,000.

How often does one of those 500,000 emails make you pull out your hair? Only you can tell.

I’ve been working with clients to help both lawyers and non-lawyers write more effective emails, save time and money, and avoid email etiquette blunders.

Below are two tips from my Electronic Bliss workshop.

1. Transform bland subject lines into newsworthy headlines

Compare your morning newspaper to your morning inbox. Most newspaper headlines entice you to read more or at least convey the bottomline. Most email subject lines do neither. Instead, they’re often generic, stale, or nonexistent.

Make your subject lines more like newspaper headlines: enticing, informative, and timely. You’ll get more people to read your emails and help your firm run more efficiently.

2. Apply “The Three-Sentence Solution” to long emails

One of the biggest gripes at law firms is that people send long, rambling emails laden with detail and off-topic chatter. Sound familiar? Avoid piquing your colleagues’ ire and start your next email by answering the three things that every reader wants to know:

  1. Why are you writing me?
  2. What’s the gist of your message?
  3. What do you want me to do after I read this email?

Only then go into the detail. Chances are, no one will get that far. But if you’d written your email in the classic style—aimless and rambling—no one would have read your email at all!

Ross Guberman is the founder and president of Legal Writing Pro, an advanced legal-writing training and consulting firm. He has conducted more than a thousand programs on three continents for many of the largest and most prestigious law firms and for dozens of state and federal agencies and bar associations. Ross is also a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School, where he teaches an advanced seminar on drafting and writing strategy. When you see the logo, you’re reading an article from Legal Writing Pro, where the article originally appeared.

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