General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

A service of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Technology eReport

American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice

JUN 2009

Vol. 8, No. 2



Seven Reasons Why I Didn’t Respond to Your Email

From: Lawyer
Re: Something really important

Dear Friends,

Attached is a Really Important Proposal. Please read it over, and let me know your thoughts.

The sender was perplexed that the response rate to his email was absolutely zero. What went wrong? Concealing the names of the recipients is fine (and in fact, recommended) for sending out jokes and announcements, but it’s definitely not the way to elicit thoughtful responses. The number of recipients could be counted on one hand, but the recipients had no way of knowing whether they were one of five or one of a hundred. The sender didn’t even show the recipients the courtesy of addressing each by name. Why would anyone feel motivated to respond to an email like this? The sender didn’t want the recipients to know who else would be receiving the message. How difficult would it have been for him to send separate messages to each individual, instead of a single mass-mailing to ?

TO: jennifer, Bob, Ted, Carol, Alice, and 25 other named recipients
FROM: Lawyer
Re: A question

You’re asking 30 people for an answer? What are you doing, taking a vote? If you’re asking 29 other people for an answer, what’s the rush for me to respond? Why should I respond at all? Let the other 29 recipients respond.

TO: Jeff, Yolanda
FROM: Lawyer
RE: Scheduling
CC: jennifer

Once again, the sender couldn’t understand why jennifer hadn’t replied. Was the message trapped in her spam filter or lost in space? Was she intentionally ignoring the sender? Was she just having another hissy fit?

None of the above! She received the email, all right, but why should she waste her time responding to email that was not even addressed to her? If the sender wanted her reply, then he should’ve directed the email to her along with the other named recipients, instead of just copying her in.

TO: jennifer
RE: Blah Blah Blah

Please respond to me at, because I never check my AOL address.

You didn’t have the courtesy to send this email from the very address to which you’d like me to direct my response? Are you some incapable of sending the email from that very address instead of the one you never check? Why should I do your work for you? Are you lazy or just plain stupid?

TO: jennifer
FROM: Lawyer
RE: Fwd: Nothing in Particular

You’ve forwarded a joke to me. You’ve thanked me for a response. You’re telling me that the sun is shining, and the birds are singing. There is absolutely nothing in your message that demands a response, so why should I send one? Do you really need the reassuring touch from me that your joke was funny, that I’m thanking you for thanking me, or that I really care about your weather report?

TO: jennifer
FROM: Lawyer
RE: Why Haven’t You Responded?

Let’s see. Sure, 36 hours have now elapsed since you sent me that email on Saturday night. Sure, it deserved a response, but there was absolutely nothing that compelled a response within minutes of the time you hit “send.” You wouldn’t expect me to answer the phone at 9 p.m. on Saturday night, nor would you dream of getting a response to an old-fashioned snail mail letter within minutes of the time you placed it in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service, so why should email be any different?

TO: Lawyer
FROM: jennifer
RE: My Response to Your E-mail

Your email is being returned to you because there was a problem with its delivery. Your mailbox is full. You’re asking me to play the challenge-response game for the privilege of responding to email that you sent to me? Your spam blocker is rejecting me.

jennifer j. rose receives her email at in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico.

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