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Your Out-Of-Office Email Message Needs Some Work

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Automatic email response: "I am currently on vacation and not accepting any emails about anything."

"I'm not planning on reading any old emails when I get back, either, because that feels antithetical to the vacation experience." So said writer Daniel Mallory Ortberg.

That laid-back message may work for writers, but it may not work so well for lawyers. Most attorneys are a little more stressed when they take a vacation.


Whatever your excuse for being out-of-office, it matters to those who are trying to reach you. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Michelle Gielan says you really should put a little more thought into your auto-response.

It's great advice because, among other obvious reasons, studies show that clients don't like to wait for answers. According to one survey of more than 2,500 businesses, law firms were big-time offenders -- they put callers on hold for an average of 36.07 seconds.

Gielan says professionals can do better than that. The auto-response should be more than a default message that gives customers nothing.

Offer an alternate contact or a link to helpful information. On the other hand, don't give too much information. "I'll be in Iziba with my spouse, two kids, our nanny, the in-laws ..."

Too Much Information

Marina Koren looks at it another way. What if you just deleted all those email that poured into your mailbox while you were out?

"Research has shown that returning to email after a brief hiatus can be stressful," she wrote for The Atlantic.

Of course, it can be stressful to miss an email from a court clerk that your filing was rejected, too. The only solution for lawyers, it seems, is a secretary. Or a robot that doesn't take vacations.

Have an open position at your law firm? Post the job for free on Indeed, or search local candidate resumes.

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