February 18, 2014: by Jon Cohen, Attorney at Law
I’m taking a break from a substantive law discussion to focus on two disparate but indirectly related topics: the housecat and email.
My wife and I have been cat owners (or cat “staff”) since we were married. We always get pound rescues, have always gotten male cats, and we tend to seek out the larger breeds (or breed mixes, more accurately) for their more affable personalities.
For one who works at home as I do, a cat can be a great companion. Our guys are good listeners and have modest demands. They are playful and gentle.
Cats generally make for a quiet environment that is nevertheless inhabited, something that works well for people who are at the computer a great deal, who need to concentrate, and who therefore want to avoid distractions. Which brings me to the topic of email, something that consumes a fair portion of my work day.
Lawyers are (or should be) careful people. This applies across a broad spectrum, running from casual at one end to obsessed at the other. Wherever one might be on that spectrum, email generally plays a role. In my many years as an attorney, I notice that for better or worse, many lawyers rely heavily on email where other people might opt for the phone.
Email provides a ready reference for the substance of communications between attorneys, attorneys and clients, attorneys and potential clients, and attorneys and service providers. Sometimes, our tendency as attorneys to rely on emails for their ability to both provide communication and to confirm the substance of the communication puts some people on edge, I believe.
It is basic common sense when conducting business communications to “get it in writing.” This is at the core of being an attorney. I think it’s a good idea to be sensitive to those situations in which a phone call would be better received than an email, which is particularly true in the case of our communications with non-lawyers.
This is just something I’ve been thinking about and trying to improve in my own dealings with non-lawyers. I think it’s time to go open the cat treats.