Monday, June 25, 2007

Professional Courtesy

I am always peeved when dealing with other legal professionals who show very little professional courtesy. I've been doing research on an important state issue (poverty), so I contacted a person in another state and inquired about their methodology and specific programs they have that address the legal needs of indigent clients. The guy I contacted was so rude. I e-mailed him because I couldn't find a good phone number - I would have rather phoned - but I addressed him by name and wrote a very professional e-mail complete with an appropriate closing. His response was a two sentence gut-punch calling me an idiot. Okay...he didn't say I was an idiot but the tone of his e-mail was very condescending.

I'm tech savvy but certain parts of business do require a personal touch. Since we're on the subject, I know e-mail is fast and preferable to playing phone tag, but I really prefer the old-fashioned method of using a phone. It's personable, faster (overall), and less chance someone will mistake your tone for condescending. And when it comes to thank you notes, handwritten - not an e-mail no matter how well worded - is still the gold standard.

Some of my younger readers will probably wonder what's the difference but there is a difference. It's just plain old professional courtesy that a lot of my colleagues feel is lacking in the current generation of lawyers. In law, I'm learning, personal reputation plays a huge part in the types of projects and positions for which you are selected. Why damage such a precious commodity simply because you can't be bothered to be professional?

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