Hamilton Herald Masthead Attorneys Insurance Mutual of the South


Front Page - Friday, April 27, 2012

Under Analysis

Are you sure you want to Reply All?

As a lawyer, I get approximately one million emails a day. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I get approximately one half of a million emails a day. I like to think it’s because I’m super important, but that’s not entirely true. Half of them are order confirmations of my online purchases of orthotics and dog treats. (I can only imagine what my home delivery man thinks of me.)

I don’t really like getting emails, but I understand it’s a necessary part of practicing law. However, one of the things I hate most about getting emails is the dreaded “Reply All response.” I hate the Reply All button. Yes, I actually hate it. I don’t feel strongly about many things in life, but I whole-heartedly despise the Reply All button. I think it should be permanently removed from all email options and thrown into an eternal fire along with forwarded email jokes and every made-for-TV movie ever aired on Lifetime.

It’s not so much the Reply All button itself that I detest, as the button hasn’t done me any personal wrong. So I suppose I should rephrase my position. I despise the use of the Reply All button. When used correctly, it’s actually a useful tool. Unfortunately, I find it is very rarely used for anything other than to create a string of pointless emails that raise my blood pressure and remind me why lawyers are known to have a bottle of liquor hidden in the bottom drawer of their desks. It isn’t because the work is stressful and a swig of alcohol eases the pressure. It’s to help cope with the incessant email responses commenting on the newest associate’s bar passage.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to read the email announcing that the newest associate passed the bar. It provides a wonderful excuse for me to pass off all the work I don’t want to do to the newly christened legal expert. Believe me, there is no one happier about the initial email announcement of bar passage than me. However, do I really need to read 25 replies from various attorneys responding with “Congratulations” and “There goes the neighborhood”? No. The answer is no. The worst Reply All offense is simply the “Ha ha ha” response. I assure you, no one is laughing when they get that email in their inbox.

I’m not saying everyone utilizes the Reply All button inappropriately. Rather, I find there are frequent repeat offenders that either don’t understand email etiquette or they just don’t care about it. There are a handful of these “Reply Allers” that irritate me with their responses. (I like to call them “Reply Allers.” Okay, that’s not true. I like to call them other choice words but I do so only in my head.)

Because I don’t like to be a complainer and not offer a solution, I’ve come up with what I believe would be a good resolution to the Reply All epidemic sweeping our offices (or maybe just my office). I propose a series of prompts to be used in conjunction with the Reply All button. After someone attempts to use the Reply All button, this series of prompts should follow:

“Are you sure you want to Reply to All?” <Enter>

“Do you realize that by Replying to All, everyone on this chain will receive your email?” <Enter>

“Do you realize that by Replying to All, you will most likely irritate and annoy 98 percent of the people on this email chain?” <Enter>

“Your response isn’t funny, nor did it add anything to the conversation, so it was deleted in an effort to save your job. You’re welcome.”

I personally think this proposal is flawless. It might anger a few of the regular Reply Allers, but it will inevitably reduce the amount of irrelevant emails sent in a day, which makes everyone happier. These prompts will also make everyone’s inboxes less clogged so they can read the more important emails that come through…like notifications of free bar association happy hours.

©2012Under Analysis, LLC. Under Analysis is a nationAlly syndicated column of The Levison Group. Lisa Henderson-Newlin is a member of the law firm McAnany Van Cleave and Phillips. Contact Under Analysis by email at comments@levisongroup.com.