OK, after watching someone get an extra complication in their life by not knowing this, I decided to pass along this tip that many lawyers know– just in time for summer. If you are out of the office, your voice message should say when you will return. It should not say when you left.

Correct:: "I am out out of the office and will return June 15th." Incorrect: "I will be out of the office from June 3rd through June 15th." It is unneeded information that could lead to incorrect assumptions.

If a client calls on June 13th, they understand you will be back in a couple of days. You don't need to alarm a nervous client who may think, "Oh, no, nothing has been done on my matter for more than a week." You don't need a client who is working double shifts and hasn't had a vacation in five years assuming you have been relaxing on a beach in Tahiti when you've been sitting through endless depositions in Detroit. And the shorter message is easier to understand with less chance of mixing up dates.

This post is not intended to address advance notice to clients when you anticipate an extended absense or similar issues. It just addresses what your voice message should say.