Email is Not the Full Story

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This article is part 3 in our series from productivity psychologist, Melissa Gratias.


An attorney client of mine received a long email from an upset client. The client listed five areas of dissatisfaction with her attorney’s representation and requested a phone call to discuss the issues. The attorney needed to document the points made in the email as well as those discussed in the subsequent phone conversation. Should he just print out the email and grab a pen to make notes in the margins?

At best, an individual email will tell half of a story. The rest of the tale takes place in hallway conversations, meetings, follow-up emails, texts, instant messages, and on the phone. One conversation may have to be pieced together from many different information sources. For the truly critical conversations, the information needs to be brought together in one place.

PDF is a great way to consolidate information created in disparate programs, especially when you can edit and annotate the final file. Although there is a time and place for hastily-scrawled notes on printed pages, dealing with an upset client is typically not one of them.

Let’s imagine how the attorney could better document this critical conversation with his client using Nitro Pro.

Before the conversation, he converts the email his client sent him to PDF using the Outlook plugin. With that PDF open on the screen in front of him, he calls her.

During the conversation, he highlights certain points made in the email and selects “Add Note” to include the client’s verbal comments.

Review tabAt one point she remarks that she didn’t mean “never” but actually meant “not today” in one of the email sentences, so he inserts another note to clarify her meaning.

Toward the end of the discussion, the client references the engagement letter, and the attorney is able to easily insert the document into his PDF as well. After a productive discussion, the client concedes that she is really only upset about two of the five points, so the attorney highlights them for emphasis.

After the conversation has ended and he has documented the next steps, he adds a “confidential” watermark to the PDF, applies password-protection, and saves it with the rest of this client’s digital files.

Using Nitro Pro, the attorney has a consolidated document that shows the problem, the resolution, and all supporting details of the interaction. Years later, he will be able to pull out this PDF and completely reconstruct the conversation should the need arise.

Reviewing and annotating a PDF using the features of Nitro Pro is a superior way to document critical conversations, especially those that originate from an email. Remember, your emails only tell part of the story.