Cut Your Inbox in Half!

Published by Michael Schauer on

The legal profession, as a whole, loves to read and write and if it hadn’t been for the invention of emails that love would have never turned bitter sweet. Our work predominantly focuses on increasing productivity of fee earners and emails are a common red flag that our clients complain about with passion.

The typical scenarios we come across are, for example;

  • Individuals receiving and being expected to process over 100 emails per day
  • Group mailboxes being monitored by the whole team
  • CC-ing colleagues to keep them in the loop on irrelevant threads
  • Staff emailing internally to get queries resolved
  • Clients complaining about poor response rates to emails

Often, attempts will have been made to address poor email practice by creating an email policy that defines ‘what good looks like’. However, in our experience, putting a policy in place is not enough to change well established habits. 

Clients we have worked with to resolve this issue have taken it a step further with the introduction of a compulsory collaboration platform for all internal chatter.

This has worked like magic!

Email is restricted to external communication only and Microsoft Teams for everything between colleagues!
With a black and white rule in place (and a couple of months of gradual roll-out and some enforcement of the new policy) people did change their habits. The reason was not just one of compliance and discipline, it was one of effective change management working with the logic, emotion and daily habits of everybody involved. This approach triggered the staff’s curiosity about what can be achieved with Microsoft Teams and they were quickly won over as it helped them get their work done more quickly and even improved their relationships with colleagues. On top of this, we’ve received great feedback on how, from support staff to senior partners, internal communication has become so much more effective by using features like chats, group discussions in organised threads and video conferencing.

And what happened to everybody’s email inboxes? They literally halved.

The need for communication did not just vanish but instead a part of it was transferred to a different platform; from Outlook to Teams. With that separation we learned that it helps staff to make better decisions on what is the most effective communication channel when communicating internally with fellow colleagues. They understand that an electronic version of a letter is no longer appropriate but rather the more digitally deft processes and platforms that allow staff to really collaborate. Staff have therefore become more productive.

Should I use a platform like Microsoft Teams with customers?

I, and probably many legal professionals as well, would say that it will be important in the future to carefully balance digital advances with the requirements of the legal profession. Teams or Slack for use with clients or even 3rd Party communication may well unnecessarily increase a number of risks rather than improve the quality of the interaction. 

Technology is great if it has been selected from other options to resolve a very specific problem but not if it’s been introduced to a firm with a “Here is a hammer, where can I find a nail?” approach.

Which platform is currently better?

In both projects we introduced Microsoft Teams rather than Slack as both firms already had an Office365 subscription and in particular the integration into Outlook is just that bit neater.
But there are many good reasons why Slack might be a better choice for your requirements, it’s certainly been the market leader for years now and we at Kies use it as well. So look into it (or talk to us)!

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