Why lawyers recommend filing emails in folders (in Outlook)

By standss Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


I had lunch with a friend who is a lawyer a few days ago. He explained to me why he still thinks it is important to file emails into folders dedicated to different clients or cases. In this post, I’d like to share his opinion… and a few suggestions on making the filing of emails easier.

Download our free 3 Question Checklist to evaluate your own Outlook Email Filing System


Why… and associated problems?

For legal reasons, my lawyer friend often replies to emails simply to acknowledge receipt e.g. He may reply to an email and simply add “Noted” at the top.

He then needs to retain a record of the email in his own records.

The standard way of doing this is printing and filing a copy away (I am frequently surprised by how many lawyers still maintain printed records of everything!).

The problem he was having was that his printed files were become way to big… and had a lot of duplicated information (when he printed out the email with Noted on it, it could run several pages depending on the size of the original email).

Here are two possible solutions that we discussed.

1) Print Replies without Printing out all of the original email

Instead of printing out the whole email, just print out the first page. You can do this in Outlook by clicking the Print button and then clicking Print Options to select the pages you want to Print.


2) Keep only electronic copies of all (or less important) emails

Instead of printing out emails, you can file the emails electronically inside Outlook. If you have been doing this already you may want to evaluate your Outlook email filing system with this 3 questions checklist.

If you haven’t been doing this so far, we recommend the following steps:

1. Create a folder structure inside Outlook that is similar to what you use for your paper folders. This will make your emails easier to find in the future because you already know where to look for them.

2. File received emails AND sent emails for the project/case/client into the folder. You want to see all related emails in one place… and not have to look for some emails in project folders, other emails in the Sent Items folder etc.

3. If you still want to retain printed emails, then only print out the emails with new information on them and use our earlier tip to only print out the relevant pages

If emails are important to your business you may also want to look at QuickFile for Outlook. QuickFile works adds a few buttons inside Outlook and is able to file up to 90% of your emails at the click of one button.

I hope you found this post useful in making your emails easier to file and find.

Download Outlook Email Filing Checklist

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One thought on “Why lawyers recommend filing emails in folders (in Outlook)

  1. I recommend both. Certainly keep a copy of the email in outlook in a filing system but print a copy to *.pdf and store that in a filing system that is regularly backed up and not on your computer work station, for instance on a server or portable hard drive, so that in the case of a major computer failure you still have access to the information.

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