Former lawyer slams law firms for putting email addresses in order of hierarchy

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Moiz Ali says he was ‘admonished’

A former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett lawyer has revealed he was once “admonished” by a partner for not putting the email addresses of his colleagues in order of seniority.

In a viral tweet (below), Moiz Ali explained, “that’s when I knew I should quit”.

According to his LinkedIn, Ali left Simpson Thacher’s New York office in 2012. He previously completed a four-month stint as a summer associate at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). The Harvard law grad went on to found an online shop for alcohol spirits and then set up a deodorant business. He’s now a start-up investor for the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Pinterest, according to his online portfolio.

In response to Ali’s tweet, which has received nearly 2,000 likes, one law firm marketing manager revealed he’s been told the “exact same thing”. He now takes “an alphabetical approach”.

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Meanwhile, one legal recruiter claimed this eye-rolling email ritual stretches back as far as the 90s.

Another user spotted an opportunity in Ali’s anecdote; proposing a tool that would rank partners in order of hierarchy, automatically.

Ali later explained that this was the exception, not the rule at his firm.

And later told Legal Cheek:

“I loved my firm and to be honest, loved the bluntness of the partner who told me that.”

In another insight into law firm email etiquette, we reported earlier this year that Quinn Emanuel followed magic circle firm Freshfields in dropping ‘Dear Sirs’ from lawyers’ emails.

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You can’t deny the Lobster instincts, hierarchy will always out. Hierarchy cannot be abolished and attempts to do so create a new hierarchy, either based around enforcing the rules or based on who can acquire the most social capital by appearing self-abasing.




Thanks, Jordan Peterson



Address and cc in order of seniority. Easy. If you have a problem with that sod off.


I agree




Are you really that insecure?



It depends whether the email is intended to be addressed to the senior lawyers (rather than merely cc). If so, there is nothing bad about order of seniority as they will likely be the decision makers.


Kim Wexler

It’s all about self importance. We get it all the time down in Albuquerque



Chuck deserved his fate



The legal profession is one of the most toxic I have ever had the dis-pleasure of being part of. I enjoy the work don’t get me wrong, but I hate the bullshit that comes with it, like the silly unwritten rule referred to in this article.



me too. There is literally so much shit like this. Its so draining.



I can’t believe anyone would even check or care. Pretty pathetic. I don’t think anyone in my firm would do this (although I could be wrong).



I never even knew this was a thing! How bizarre.



Haha if someone told me to do that I’d laugh in their face and let them know just how pathetic I think they are.
Take it up with HR, babes. x



why are you lying to yourself?



Clearly not enough work to be doing if a partner has enough time to check the order of an email and moan about it.


Michael kelly

Maybe there’s some room for nuance here. Suppose an email really does need to grab the attention of the senior people? Putting them first would make sense then but otherwise it might appear petty for strict hierarchy to be insisted upon. The problem with that is that the sender of the message becomes the arbiter of its importance which might not be universally accepted so in that light perhaps the hierarchy rule is not so petty after all. There is always room for more than one view!


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