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ACTEC Email Listserv Etiquette

1.  Website and Listserv Policy. The ACTEC website and the ACTEC-sponsored list services exist to support the dissemination and exchange of information, ideas and opinions concerning the College, its meetings, the work of its committees, the practice of estate planning, probate and trust law and developments and issues relating to the practices of the College’s Fellows. All communications on the ACTEC website and on its sponsored list services should be consistent with these purposes. Civility in tone and language is expected and required. Defamatory, demeaning or abusive comments of any kind violate this policy and will subject the member communicating such comments to disciplinary action under Article II, Section 6, of the Bylaws, including expulsion. (Regents 10/22/01)

2.  Make postings succinct. Long postings are less likely to be read completely and responded to by your Listmates.

3.  Carefully proofread your message before sending. Misspelled words, lack of punctuation, and poor grammar are unprofessional and make your message difficult to read. Capitalize words as appropriate, but remember that use of all capitals is considered shouting.

4.  Send only practice related messages. Most Listmates will find senders of jokes, stories, personal and commercial messages, or anything that is not practice related, disrespectful of their time.

5.  Click <Reply> only when your message should go to the whole group. If your reply is intended only for the sender, reply via Forward only to the sender. If you do not know the sender’s email address locate the address on the ACTEC Roster or right click on the sender’s name, click Properties, and copy and paste the sender’s email address into the To box in a Forward of the original message.

6.  Reply off-line when you can. If someone offers an article, request it offline. You are rude to your other Listmates by placing an unnecessary message in their boxes by sending a message intended only for one Listmate.

7.  Use a descriptive subject line and keep the subject line intact. Use a descriptive subject line when starting a question, and when replying to messages, do not change the subject line. List serve archives are sorted by subject line, so readers can follow a discussion thread. A corollary is to not use the same subject line to introduce a new inquiry or thread.

8.  “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” are unnecessary. These magic words that we teach our children and are appropriate in everyday correspondence or communication are unnecessary for your Listmates. It is best understood with silence that you appreciate a reply and that the reply is welcome. If you believe such gratuitous compliments are appropriate to state, do them offline.

9.   Be clear. Limit acronyms or cryptic shorthand to standard estate planning shorthand (e.g. QTIP, QPRT, ILIT) but avoid, IMHO, BTW, LOL etc.

10. Include your name and email address. Make it clear to the reader who is sending the message and help your readers to make an offline reply by including your email address. Your firm, city, and telephone may also be helpful.

11. Do not include Circular 230 or law firm email disclosures. Whenever possible, delete all banners before sending or replying to make it easier for readers to focus on the substance.

12. Be probing and insightful. No ten commandments here. After your own initial research, ask your probing and interesting inquiry. Make an insightful yet cogent reply. Build upon the knowledge of others, be respectful of others, and contribute generously to ACTEC. Advance the profession.

13. Be mindful of attorney-client confidentiality and ethics obligations. Postings will be read by many Fellows, some of whom may become or already be involved as adversaries in the matter for which you seek input.  Your postings are not confidential or privileged.  Discussing particular factual situations or even identifying legal issues could breach your ethical duties and cause loss of confidentiality for information placed on the listserv.  If a Fellow reads your postings and now or in the future represents someone adverse to your client, that Fellow may have an ethical duty to disclose your postings in connection with that representation.  All Fellows should be mindful of our obligation to practice with professionalism and collegiality, and not use communications posted by another Fellow for improper purposes.