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How can “don’t answer your own e-mail” possibly help a general counsel be more productive?

The header’s question is rhetorical, I believe, even though it is one of five “business killers” seriously proposed by an article in Fortune, Dec. 6, 2010 at 71. The author tells about a CEO who “asked his assistant to take over and handle his e-mails two years ago.” The CEO claims big benefits from that liberation because he can now get out and around much more.

I just don’t see it. Without doubt a general counsel needs discipline and effective techniques to cope with incoming e-mail, but the suggested solution tosses lots of babies out with the bath water. A good administrative assistant might purge low-value messages, but many of them fill in the picture for the top lawyer and demand that lawyer’s experience and judgment, not to mention clout. Delegation of some filtering tasks could improve efficiency regarding e-mails, but abdication is out of the question.

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