Posted by Jennifer Macqueen
Using a badly constructed email signature is like writing your phone number on a client or prospective client’s hand – yes, it accomplishes the task, but at what cost to professionalism?
You might not give a lot of attention to how you sign off on your emails, but your “Cheers” or “Sincerely” can have an enormous effect on how you and your legal practice are perceived.
Think of email signatures as the equivalent of your law firm’s business cards – clean, simple and small but no-less indispensable to your brand and to your unique professional identity.
There are heaps of lists out there providing examples of how to end an email. Forbes magazine offers 89 ways to sign off on an email, but we think you’re intelligent enough that it isn’t necessary to read each and every iteration of “Thank you”. Instead, here are some all-purpose tips that should govern your email sign off, however you decide to phrase it.
Your email signature should always be audience appropriate. If you chose to use a standard sign off, the type that is robotically added to the end of every email, it should be traditional and general enough that it would be suitable to put at the end of an email to both your friends and your boss. If you personalize the end of each email, customize your sign off to the individual recipients. “Later Alligator” may work for your BFF, but not opposing counsel.
This should be the rule governing everything you compose in your emails. The typical person gets buried in emails every day, many employees see more than 100 in a day. Every added line and unnecessary word is a strain on someone’s limited thought process, particularly when it comes to email signatures.
Less is more.
This is a perfect illustration of excessive. As Confucius once said, “To go too far is as bad as to fall short”.
Enclosing your title and contact information as an element of your email’s programmed signature is fine. It’s like adding your business card to every message. This can also be said for a small logo to identify your law firm. But keep it limited, lest you submerge your recipient in an inventory list of your titles, address, office number, fax number, cell number, personal email address, personal website, corporate email address, corporate website, personal photo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Keep your contact info, including your name and title, to four items or less.
If you want a compendium, think about adding a link to a personal cover page. For example, your law firm profile page, your LinkedIn account or an “About” page, that way you can include your complete comprehensive contact list of information.
Nothing screams,”I AM A LAWYER” like a four word email saying, “Want to do lunch?” ̶ followed by:
“Privileged/Confidential information may be contained in this message and may be subject to legal privilege. Access to this e-mail by anyone other than the intended is unauthorized. If you are not the intended recipient (or responsible for delivery of the message to such person), you may not use, copy, distribute or deliver to anyone this message (or any part of its contents) or take any action in reliance on it. In such case, you should destroy this message, and notify us immediately. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail or telephone and delete the e-mail from any computer. If you or your employer does not consent to internet e-mail messages of this kind, please notify us immediately. All reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure no viruses are present in this e-mail. As our company cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this e-mail or attachments we recommend that you subject these to your virus checking procedures prior to use. The views, opinions, conclusions and other information expressed in this electronic mail are not given or endorsed by the company unless otherwise indicated by an authorized representative independent of this message.”
Instead of having a longwinded, drawn-out legal disclaimer following every email you write, consider creating a separate, one page file with the different disclaimers listed and only copy and paste the relevant ones into your email when necessary. If that’s too much effort, at the very least, limit it to as few words as possible, in a smaller font and possibly a lighter text color.
Remember; think of your email signature as a brief snapshot of you and your law firm. It’s extremely important to make certain that it communicates the right professional persona. An incisive, well-designed email signature can make a decent impact into a great impression when transacting with potential clients and professional associates.
Remember these tips and your email signature should get noticed, but for the right purpose.
Our award winning marketing team at Firm Evolution welcomes the opportunity to assist you. We provide a wide range of marketing and public relations services throughout the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Midwest. We focus on the needs, goals and differentiating aspects of each law firm client. Our emphasis is on the big picture — leveraging the strengths of the individual attorneys, practice groups and overall firm on all fronts. We work closely with our clients to insure that all components of their marketing program – from press releases and marketing plans, to website and Internet campaigns – provide a strong foundation for maintaining existing clients and developing new ones. Contact Firm Evolution at 206.321.3220 or with our online contact form to learn more about how we can help your law firm!