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Lawyers need a professional email address, and it’s not @aol.com

By April 20, 2011November 7th, 2020law, web-tech

In Louisiana lawyers have to get 12.5 hours of CLE credit each year, and 1 of those hours has to be from a program devoted to “professionalism.” And this basically involves making lawyers aware of things that aren’t strictly ethical obligations, but nevertheless are serious aspirational goals.

I submit that high on the list of “professionalism” goals should be for lawyers to get their own domain name for use with the firm email. Can it be considered professional these days for an attorney to use an email address like this: attorney@aol.com? Same goes for @hotmail, @yahoo, and even @gmail.

The other day I visited the website of a patent law firm that has five attorneys. They had their own domain and it pointed to the website. Okay, that’s a good start. But then I looked at the email addresses for the five lawyers. Three of them had addresses that ended with the firm’s domain, but two of them had addresses that pointed to non-firm domains. One pointed to @aol.com and the other pointed to @netscape.net. 

Seriously? 

We’re talking about a patent law firm, with engineer/lawyers who seek to appeal to tech-savvy clients. Obviously they can figure out how to get their emails configured to use the firm domain.

So, what is it then? I submit it’s a lackadaisical approach to their internet identity. And I bet it’s cost them clients on at least one occasion. 

If you want to present a thoroughly professional appearance then get an email with a personal domain. All you have to do is go to a service that sells domain names, and get one that works as a dedicated domain.

If you don’t know how to do this then hire someone; believe me this is not a big-ticket item. If you don’t know where to get your email hosted, use Google Apps (it’s $50/yr for each user and their service works with private domains). I use Google Apps to host my @svensonlaw.com email. I get no spam and my email uptime is about 99.999%. And no one knows that I’m using Google to host my email, not that I’m concerned if they did. 

The only thing I’m concerned about is having an email address for my business that reflects that I’m serious about my practice.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

13 Comments

  • jeff says:

    stop using gmail it violates privilege

  • Incredibly individual pleasant website. Enormous info available on few clicks on.|

  • Ernie Svenson says:

    That's because this blog is a personal site. My law firm site lists my firm email address, which is an @svensonlaw domain.

    • Taha Steve Shakhin says:

      I saw somebody who use @lawyer.com domain name. I asked them how they get this domain. they told me from the site free ‘www.mail.com’ but now this site doesn’t service for ‘@lawyer.com’ domain name. if I want to use this domain. what should I do? Thanks…

  • Andrew Legrand says:

    Ernie,

    I'm in the process of creating my own domain/website/etc and have re-read this post and a few others. However, I can't help but notice that in your own header you list your email with a gmail domain. I've got to ask why you decided to use your gmail account up there, but then denounce that practice in this post. Thanks in advance.

  • Congratulations on your fabulous post. It sounds interesting. Thanks a lot. I have checked over a few of your other articles and found some great information too.

  • lawyers says:

    Most of the layer firms still don’t have there own website. Its not important that they get a email with the firm name. It can be an addon but that does not matter because we are more into contacting lawyer so why would we care about all these things?

  • David Staub says:

    Ernie, like you, I am still floored when I find lawyers using email addresses like yahoo and gmail for professional email. If someone told me 10 years ago that there would be a reason for a post like yours in 2011, I would have laughed.

    I agree that not having a professional looking email address really sends a wrong message to potential clients.

  • Ted Waggoner says:

    Have the office email, but also have the mobile me.com and a couple gmail.com for list serve work. Do you recommend I put the office address in the signature block of the others?

  • Dave says:

    It is so easy and so inexpensive to have your email address at your own domain these days, that when I see a “Professional” email address that is “@aol.com” I immediately assume that the person 1) lacks tech savvy or 2) doesn’t care to the point that I don’t care to do business with them.

  • Bret Moore says:

    From a marketing standpoint, firm names are nowhere near as valuable as generic keywords. This is domaining 101 stuff. Svensonlaw.com doesn’t say jack about your practice, so its value is 0 from a marketability standpoint. That said, you don’t _need_ to market your e-mail address (although you can, it doesn’t hurt), but you should market at least one or two domain names related to your practice. I’m not a hugely successful solo, I’m just a part timer, but what work I’ve gotten has been solely because of SEO/SEM, blogging, twitter, and a few personal network referrals.

  • Botolo86 says:

    Great post, I totally agree with you. Firms need to get their own email addresses. I would like to add some tips to the ones already submitted by Andrea in the comment above:

    – when you have to decide the domain name for your firm, you can use websites such as https://domize.com or the brand new https://panabee.com/. They will help you to find the right name!

  • Great post Ernie!

    If you don’t have a privately hosted, firm owned domain – you really do need to get one now.

    At a cost of around $10 per year for the domain registration – even if you do not build a website immediately, you can have “professional” email.

    A few things to keep in mind when domain shopping:

    *get the .com – if the domain you want is not available as a .com then keep looking. Yes, you can also register the .net and .org extensions, but your main domain MUST be a .com

    *make it easy – to remember (and spell). A domain name should conjure up an image of you or what you do in the minds of your prospects/clients.

    *if your name is not available – go with your location or practice specialty (i.e., DallasProbateAtty)

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