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Complying With 'Email Address Ordering Hierarchy' in Law Firms

At the Lawyerist blog, Sybil Dunlop ponders an issue that, coincidentally, I was also thinking about earlier this week: Does the order in which you list recipients' email addresses in the "To" line of an email matter at all?

I was thinking about this vital question recently as I created a new email by hitting "Reply All" to an unrelated email and adding some others to the "To" line. This had the effect of placing the email addresses in a fairly random order, with a key client tacked on to the end of the email addresses and some junior lawyers before more senior lawyers. For no good reason other than it seemed to be a more prominent location, I decided to move the client to the front of the "To" line. I Ieft the rest of the email addresses where they were.

Dunlop reports, however, that "email address ordering hierarchy" is an actual thing in some law firms, and that governing protocol is to list email addresses in experience-descending order. The "To" line under such a protocol should therefore read: "TO: Senior partner, junior partner, senior associate, midlevel associate, junior associate, first year, paralegal."

According to Dunlop, "email address ordering hierarchy" is not to be messed around with in such law firms, as partners will not hesitate to admonish associates for daring to deviate from the rule -- even in the blind carbon copy ("BCC") line. If you are feeling particularly mischievous, you could also choose to emulate one of Dunlop's friends who "delight[ed] in emailing an opposing counsel and listing every junior associate before listing the annoying partner." Sacrilege! 

Posted by Bruce Carton on January 9, 2013 at 04:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)


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