Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can an email address send the wrong impression on client confidence?

Carolyn Elefant asks in a recent blog: can an e-mail address make a negative impression? The question appears to be about more than professional polish. She goes onto write:

Used to be that lawyers worried about the cache that their physical mail address would convey. For example, here in the D.C. area, a "K" Street or Pennsylvania Avenue address carries white-shoe prestige while an address on 5th Street near the D.C. Superior Court house suggests a practicing criminal lawyer or consumer-oriented practice.

But in an Internet age, does a lawyer's e-mail address matter just as much? Doug Cornelius of Compliance Building initiated a recent discussion of the matter with this tweet:

Esquire's Rule #1033. If your lawyer's email address ends in, or (or, find a new lawyer.

Cornelius didn't elaborate on the point (after all, he only had 140 characters), but I suppose that Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail addresses suggest that a lawyer is too cheap or lacking in tech savvy to set up an e-mail account on his own firm's server. In addition, some have raised privacy concerns about Gmail, which would presumably apply to the other services as well. Questions about the confidentiality of a firm's e-mail might be another reason for a client to avoid a lawyer using one of these services.