Skip to content
Featured Image
Client Feedback, Service & Teams
2 minute read | 11 months ago

When Not to Send Emails

Photo of Nathaniel Slavin By: Nathaniel Slavin

Years ago in an interview, a general counsel shared: “Don’t send me non-urgent emails late at night and/or on the weekends.” This is a lesson I have taken to heart—and heard many times again from a wide range of clients.

While every client has their own preferences, many clients don’t want non-urgent emails on the weekends or late at night because it implies something negative. It tells them that communication with them was not a priority and that outside counsel “finally got around to sending it” after more important work was complete. It can also imply that outside counsel is not organized or efficient enough during weekdays.

Clients also often comment that when they get late emails, particularly with unhelpful subject lines like “Update” or “FYI,” they are compelled to read the email and respond, which intrudes into personal time and leads to further frustration.

In short, just because an outside counsel wants to finally get to something and fire off an email doesn’t mean they should. And while it’s great to get those communications done and prepared, saving them in a draft folder or scheduling an email for later delivery means completing the work without creating false urgency for the client.

As to when you do send an email, there are several best practices that clients reiterate time and again:

  • Confirm that an email has been received.
  • When the ask is vague, clarify whether the client wants a quick (off-the-clock/non-billable) response or deeper analysis, thought and research. And, given specific client preferences, confirm that they are okay with you spending their budgeted, or internal client’s budgeted, money.
  • Confirm when you will get them the answer and that the timeline works for the client.
  • Make sure that if a self-imposed deadline is going to be missed, you give them plenty of advance warning. If the deadline is noon on Friday, sending an email at 11:45 am implies poor time management and project management skills but also lack of consideration.

It’s not just the quality of the work that matters. How you demonstrate respect for your client’s time matters too.