The 5-10 minute rule for important email messages, but it destroys productivity

It seems perverse to slow down an in-house attorney who is deluged with email, but that is what authors in Robert Haig, Ed., Successful Partnering Between Inside and Outside Counsel(Thomson Reuters/West 2009 Supp.), Vol. 1, Chapter 2 at §2:18, recommends. For important messages, write co-authors Charles Gill, Joseph Santos and Curtiss Isler, “Use the five- or 10-minute rule (i.e., don’t send the e-mail until you have thought about it for five or 10 minutes).” They mean you should let the message you are about to fire off ruminate a bit; give some thought to how it might look blown up as a trial exhibit; listen to it with adversarial ears. A revision or two might greatly strengthen your side somewhere down the road.

Good advice, very lawyerly, impossible to criticize, but it will obviously hobble productivity. To advise in-house counsel to ponder the legal consequences of what they do with email – indeed, with everything they do – is to be on the side of the angels, but let productivity go to the devil.

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