I recently read a couple of articles which seemed to be written for each other. The first article recounted the downward spiral of a discovery issue between two attorneys. The issue had to do with simply scheduling depositions. Without giving a blow by blow (almost literally) it is enough to say that one lawyer clearly was having a bad evening and did not appreciate that other’s requests for deposition dates. If you read the full email chain you can see that the back and forth exchange quickly, and alarmingly, got out of hand.
The second article addressed a time management process aimed at dealing with the many emails received throughout a typical day. After having just read about the discovery dispute mentioned above the portion of this second article that jumped off the page to me was this:
I also do my best never to go back and forth with someone on email about something more than two or three times. If it’s gone that far, it’s usually a better idea to pick up the phone.
It sure seemed to me that the suggestion to pick up the phone may have put out the fire on what turned out to be a total unprofessional mess of email discourse between two lawyers. Clearly the email exchange in the first article went on far too long before someone either 1) disengaged altogether, or 2) picked up the phone.
Kyle Wallor recently posted about what litigators could learn from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Lawyers can also learn from these articles. Consider that picking up the phone early can sometimes prevent situations from escalating.