How to break free from the email chain

If your inbox is getting totally out hand, social collaboration software may be your saving grace
Email Etiquette
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Emails can contain golden information: legal research, breaking updates on files and leads on potential clients. But email is inefficient — too often, key contacts are left out of the loop and the email chain multiplies into an incomprehensible spaghetti of messages. Those nuggets of info can get lost.

There is a solution. Law firms should scrap email altogether, says Guy Alvarez, a New York-based tech consultant who advises law firms. Instead, he says, lawyers should contact each other using social collaboration software designed for the workplace, such as Jive or Tibbr. In essence, it’s an internal Facebook. Lawyers can post on each other’s “walls,” bringing information once hidden in the shadows of individual inboxes to the desktop of every colleague. And, like on Facebook, lawyers don’t have to read everything: they can follow specific files, or scan their newsfeed for popular posts.

Social Collaboration SoftwareAlvarez says this is coming to law firms. Clients of tomorrow — who are the young, connected people of today — will demand access to internal social networks at firms they hire, so they can stay up-to-date on their case. Firms without that capability, says Alvarez, will lose business. “By the end of this decade, 70 percent of the global workforce will be a millennial. Your clients are going to be millennials,” he says. “And you bet your ass they’re going to be asking for this.”

For more on how to make your firm more efficient, read our roundtable, where six big-name lawyers gave us their take on how to make law better.

Icons by Isabel Foo