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How losing an email can threaten your legal firms' integrity

6 April, 2022

Email is the most crucial communication channel for lawyers, yet it is often overlooked. With hundreds of emails being sent and received daily, ensuring that email is safe, secure, and organised must be a primary consideration. After all, time is a lawyer’s most important resource, so not wasting it searching for information in emails will result in more time spent on value-adding, billable work for your clients and firm.  

The legal profession is held to higher moral, ethical, and regulatory standards than most other sectors, so protecting your firms’ reputation is paramount. While most other industries would have a chance of recovery, any reputational damage received by a legal firm is likely to be detrimental.  

With the number of emails being sent and received, the risk of missing a critical piece of data is extremely high. New information that could be time-sensitive like instructions from a client or a crucial development in a case could be easily overlooked. Not having an organised management process for your email increases the chances of issues like these arising, or can result in important correspondence and updates being buried in a sea of unimportant emails.  

The threats facing the legal industry

Email is an important communication channel for the legal sector, but due to its very nature, business-critical information can often be suppressed by becoming lost or stuck in an employee’s inbox. This means that your critical data may not be circulated amongst the team and urgent instructions actioned as intended. Imagine a lawyer is in court and unable to access their inbox when an urgent update on a case comes in, other members of the team who are available and who could have quickly actioned this in their absence, unfortunately, remain unaware of its existence. 

Another scenario is that a team member has left the business, and their casework has been reassigned to another employee. The employee taking on the workload will have an inbox full of communications and data, but no clear understanding of what stage the cases are at, the history, or the relationship previously held with the client. This will result in having to manually search through the ex-employee's inbox to try and piece together critical bits of information and hope that nothing crucial has been missed. This process could take several hours, if not days of wasted time, and the risk for human error is extremely high. 

Managing cases with team members where multiple people are manually filing correspondence can create a massive opportunity for data loss and information discrepancies. For example, assume you are working on a case with your team; you exchange emails and each person saves emails to case folders manually, so there is a considerable risk of not seeing the latest communication, resulting in inconsistencies. A transparent and collaborative system where colleagues can have complete oversight over case information and receive information updates in real-time is required for firms to be more efficient and responsive to clients’ needs. 

Additionally, the length of cases typically results in long chains of correspondence between multiple parties that can span over extensive periods, so it is essential that critical parts of the case or communication can be retrieved when needed to act quickly and professionally. Not being able to find essential information makes firms and staff look unprofessional and careless, which can result in fines and litigation. This could cause irreversible reputational damage and, in serious cases, threaten the firm’s future and the careers of those who work for it. 

Internal communication risks

Unfortunately, it is not just data loss that threatens a firm’s reputation but also employee conduct. There have been multiple high-profile cases where lawyers have been disbarred for their unethical behaviour relating to the use of email correspondence. Incidents like these can seriously impact a legal firm’s reputation, so it’s crucial to have visibility over employees’ correspondence. A staff member’s actions directly reflect on the firm, so to prevent issues like this from arising, firms must have a strategy in place where communications can be monitored and referenced if necessary.  

How can legal firms protect themselves in the future?

The problem is that most firms are not proactive about the risks that could occur, and by not planning, evaluating, and preparing for these risks, when they do arise, then it is likely too late to carry out any meaningful damage limitation. 

Legal firms also have a requirement to retain client and case data for a specific period. That makes it even more important to know where all information resides, understand who has access to it and make data easily accessible to relevant employees. 

By adopting an efficient email management system in your firm, all email correspondence and case attachments can be safely and securely filed to a chosen location, and able to be located within minutes. This means you’ll spend less time on onerous email admin and data retrieval, and more time on billable work resulting in increased productivity and revenue opportunities. Having emails and attachments instantly available makes the firm more efficient and responsive to clients’ needs, resulting in the firm maintaining or even improving upon its reputation within the industry. 

Is it time to implement an email management solution?

With Mail Manager, legal firms can make it easier for employees to file emails, manage their inboxes, and reduce the risk of losing important and sensitive case data. The software is quick and easy to implement and roll out across an entire business. And teams can immediately begin filing information to the correct location, collaborating more effectively than ever before.

Discover how Mail Manager can revolutionise your email management practices with a 15-day free trial!

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