Stop wasting time sorting email

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EmailMany lawyers have one email folder or label for each case or client, and sort every email into the appropriate folder. Others print out every email and file it. Both are unnecessary and, collectively, a colossal waste of time.

Every major operating system today has built-in indexed search. This means your computer crawls the data on your drive so that it can deliver search results nearly instantly, much as Google does for the internet.

As a result, on the few occasions you need to find an email, you can get it in mere seconds—or roughly the time it takes you to file each one of those emails by hand. The up-to-date versions of every major email software have indexed search built in, including Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, Hotmail, and others. (If you use practice management software, you may be outta luck; but don’t worry, they’ll catch up next decade.)

The only time I do sort my emails is when I close a file. I like to have The File nice and tidy in one folder for archiving, so I search for the relevant names and email addresses to get all the emails for the file. Then I save them to The File for archiving.

Search, don’t sort.

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  • Totally agree!

    In fact blogged about this the other day after seeing Google Mails Send and Archive function

    http://www.jasonplant.co.uk/2009/01/google-vs-interwoven-email-send-archivefile/

  • Chad

    I work in the IT dept at my Firm. The lawyers here have become wholly reliant on the personal folder system in Outlook. It’s a huge load to backup every night on the Exchange server and often they let their personal folders get larger than 500 mbs. Once they go over this recommended size limit they are more likely to become corrupt. Losing every email pertaining to a case or a client is not an option but, I have seen it happen before. Do yourself a favor and go with a safer alternative like the indexing system talked about here. It’s free and reliable.

  • Sam:

    You said: “The only time I do sort my emails is when I close a file. I like to have The File nice and tidy in one folder for archiving, so I search for the relevant names and email addresses to get all the emails for the file. Then I save them to The File for archiving.”

    I assume you’re talking about saving to the client file, not merely an email label with the client’s name on it. How do you do this without having to open and save each individual email?

  • I use Outlook to do that. With Acrobat Std or Pro, you can just export all the e-mails to a nicely-indexed PDF.

  • Gracias. I’m assuming Thunderbird will do the same thing…

  • Actually, no. Neither will Gmail. It is one of the only reasons I keep Outlook around.