Stop Using @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com E-Mail Addresses for Your Law Office

Free e-mail services from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others make getting up and running with an e-mail address a trivial effort. The unfortunate side effect of choosing to use a free email address for a law office – or any business for that matter – is that these free e-mail addresses are burdened with a negative perception: price sends a signal, and using a free e-mail service as a core part of your businesses front-office sends the wrong message.

Just a few ago, cost was a reasonable justification for solos and small firms to choose a free e-mail service. The expense of licensing an e-mail server such as Microsoft Exchange, and hiring a consultant to get everything up-and-running could easily run into the thousands of dollars.

However, in the era of cloud computing, that’s all changed. Google Apps, for example, offers a turn-key e-mail hosting service – including domain name registration – for $10/year. Microsoft offers hosted e-mail for less than $2.00/user/month. With services such as these, getting up-and-running with your own @lawfirm.com e-mail address takes only a few minutes to do, and costs less than what most of us spend on coffee in a week.

If you’re using an @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com or other free e-mail address, make the switch now. Your online presence will thank you for it.

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Comments

  1. Beyond appearances, I have always been troubled by the idea of using an email service for confidential client communications that has, as a business model, the accumulation of my communications in a database, especially one expressly used for marketing. Beyond my own concerns,I client’s perceptions of the same issue is a sufficient show stopper for all google services for clients. I just pay for my email. I am very pleased with runbox.com. In addition, I think they are beyond the USA Patriot Act’s reach.

  2. Ken, your point about marketing has merit. But all off-site hosts use servers to accumulate your emails, so in that respect Google isn’t different. With Google Apps, you use your own domain name, so clients have the “right” perception; and if you get your mail with IMAP, you can choose to keep a copy on your local machine.

    I wish I believed that the U.S. “Homeland” Security folks respected international boundaries on the internet.

  3. Ken,

    Appreciate your comments – but might suggest that the use of free email has become so widespread even among “professionals” that perception should not be the driving reason for not using a free email address.

    Best/Rob Robinson wrrobinson[AT]gmail.com.

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more Jack! Great article.

  5. As a recent client of a solo with a gmail account, I have to say I hesitated a little before sending details of my real estate file to her. A self-branded domain gives the firm a different appearance. From a marketing standpoint, it may make you look bigger and more established. From an information standpoint, it may make you look more secure. Neither is necessarily true, but that’s my perception as a consumer.

  6. I fully agree with you. Moreover, and that is critical for law firms
    ,free internet providers, do read and keep a copy of all communications made through their services. No privacy, nor security.