Considering what it replaced, email is a beautiful thing. Near-instant communication is an effective way to send and receive information in the moment. Unfortunately, after that initial moment passes, the benefit of using email rapidly dwindles.
As of today, email is still the most popular way to communicate and transfer documents. However, its near-archaic, in-line framework simply does not fit in to today’s fast-paced synergetic environment. In the coming decade, email will be replaced by more collaborative means of communication according to Canadian Law Magazine columnist Ben Hanuka. This switch seems natural enough since we need to accomplish so much more than what email was intended for. We continue to use it because it’s what we know; it’s also what everyone else knows, but it’s not the key to the future.
So what can’t an email platform do for you?
1. Emails cannot support large file transfer
According to ILTA’s annual technology survey, most firms impose a mailbox limit of 2GB. A few high quality audio files along with a couple 300-page PDFs will eat up that space very quickly. Lawyers are forced to work under strict caps on incoming and outgoing messages which serves as quite a handicap when you need to receive things like video evidence from a client.
2. Emails cannot give you security
Rule 1.6 set out by the American Bar Association states that “a lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.” And you certainly cannot do that with insecure email.
3. Emails can’t help you manage attachments.
There is no handy repository to organize documents within your mailbox so instead you upload them to your firm’s DMS. Since a file can exist in multiple email threads at once you find yourself downloading the same thing three times. Does this sound familiar? Due to the sheer volume of mail received daily, it becomes too easy to misplace important documents. All of this leads to an organizational nightmare.
4. Emails does not help you stay organized
You can forget about trying to retrieve mail even one month after the fact because professional email providers have notoriously bad search engines. If, like most firms, you still use Microsoft Outlook you know that searching for a specific document can be a difficult, time consuming, infuriating task. You might get lucky if you know key aspects such as the date it was sent or the sender’s name. If that information is unknown, you know your doc is lost for good. Since effective archiving is an issue, auditability becomes a problem – putting your firm under scrutiny for compliance.
5. Emails does not support effective collaboration
Perhaps one of the most fundamental flaws of email is that it can’t give you context beyond the subject line and the recipient/sender information. The inline framework lumps everything together, even though multiple topics are discussed. Inversely, one subject can be discussed in multiple email threads, making it impossible to streamline projects and tasks.
Its difficult to imagine an organization without email, but there are products on the market even today that give professionals better tools to perform their jobs. Platforms that center conversations around projects rather than subject lines, whose organizational capabilities allow you to sort, archive, and retrieve files within milliseconds. More space than a measly 2GB with military-grade security to protect it. These products will dictate the future.