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Handle Receipt & Despatch

of Information
BSBINM303A
Unit Notes

(Legal Office Mail)

Receiving and
Distributing Incoming Mail
Introduction
As a Legal Administration Assistant you may be required to
process the incoming mail. As most of the mail received by a legal office will relate to matters that
are currently open, it is important that the mail is processed promptly and distributed to the correct
personnel.

Incoming mail should always be processed by following your firms policies and procedures. In the
case of served documents the relevant court processes will need to be followed. Before you
process incoming mail ensure that you are familiar with the procedures that apply in your firm.
Correctly processing incoming mail is an important responsibility. A small to medium sized
suburban practice can receive 200 mail items a day. The following scenario illustrates the
importance of following your firms procedures.

Scenario
A law firm is handling two cases for the same client and a different lawyer is
dealing with each case. The client has been requested to provide some information
by one of the lawyers. When the client sends a letter containing the requested
information they have forgotten to include the lawyers name. The Legal
Administration Assistant responsible for opening the incoming mail assumes the
letter is for a particular lawyer. Unfortunately, they make an incorrect assumption
and the letter is passed to the wrong lawyer.

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The lawyer waiting for the information phones the client asking when the
information will be sent, only to discover that the information has already been
sent. This type of conduct challenges the professional reputation of the legal
practice.

In order to process and distribute incoming mail appropriately you need to be aware of the
following points:

Receiving mail

Checking and registering incoming mail

Sorting and distributing incoming mail

Handling specific types of incoming mail

Dealing with damaged, suspicious and missing items correctly.

Receiving mail
Mail can arrive in a variety of ways including:

Mail delivered by Australia Post

Mail delivered by the Australian Document Exchange (known as Ausdoc or DX)

Mail delivered by courier

Mail that is faxed

Mail that is sent by email

Mail that is hand delivered.

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Mail delivered by Australia Post


Some of the mail your firm receives will be delivered in the morning by Australia Post. On
occasions legal documents will be delivered using an Australia Post special delivery service, such
as Registered Post. Registered Post provides an added level of security through a unique
identification number for each item and the need for the recipient to sign for the mail item.

Be aware that some firms have a Post Office box. Post Office boxes are usually situated in a Post
Office or in a shop that acts as an agent for Australia Post. If your firm has a Post Office box then
mail, addressed with your firms Post Office box number, will be delivered to the box. You may be
required to pick up the mail from the box. When collecting the mail from the Post Office always
check the mail before leaving in case there are some items which are not for your firm, or in case
there is a card there to indicate that an item must be picked up from the Post Office counter (such
as a Registered Letter or a parcel).

Mail delivered by the Australian Document Exchange (known as DX)


The Australian Document Exchange, also known as DX is an alternative to Australia Post and
courier companies. When a legal firm joins DX they receive a DX number and a private box at the
nearest exchange. Exchanges exist throughout the country and firms go to the exchange to pick
up their mail and to distribute mail to other organisations that are members of DX. Many law firms,
courts, government departments and other professional organisations use DX.

Law firms, who are members of DX, include their DX number in their letterhead so that other
organisations can send mail to them through the DX system.

Mail delivered by courier


Courier companies are often used to deliver mail that is urgent. Courier deliveries require a
signature and so increase the level of security for mail items.

Mail that is faxed


Mail often arrives in the form of a fax and your firm may have a specific process that you need to
follow in order to process faxes. Usually they are delivered to the person they are addressed to as
quickly as possible.

Mail that is sent by email


Increasingly mail arrives in the form of emails. Normally, emails will be sent directly to the
recipient. If you receive an email that is intended for someone else ensure that you forward it
immediately. If you are unsure who should receive an email, ask your supervisor. Check your
email regularly.

Mail that is hand delivered


On occasions you will receive hand delivered mail. Unless otherwise directed you should process
this mail by following the same procedures that are in place for other mail.

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Checking and registering incoming mail


Introduction
If you have been given the responsibility of dealing with the incoming mail you need to be aware of
the correct processes to follow for checking and registering the mail.

Checking incoming mail


As it is very easy to accidentally damage a letter or a document when you are opening an
envelope it is best to take your time and open each envelope with care.

Once you have opened an envelope ensure that you remove all the contents. Often an envelope
will include a covering letter and a number of attachments. You should check that all the
attachments indicated in the covering letter have in fact been included. See the "Handling specific
types of incoming mail" section below to understand what to do if items are missing.

Keeping items together


Ensure items that arrive in the same envelope are kept together. You can usually attach items with
a paper clip. For example, a cheque that arrives with a letter must be paper clipped to the letter
otherwise someone could receive the letter and assume that the sender has forgotten to send the
cheque. However, you must be aware that Wills must never be attached to anything else as this
can make them invalid. Be aware also, that original documents, such as Titles, Agreements or
Court documents should never be stapled. It is preferable to attach items to original documents
with a paper clip or a bull dog clip.

Scenario
A Legal Administration Assistant accidentally stapled a letter to a Will. Realising
her mistake she carefully removed the staple and the letter from the Will. On
informing her supervisor she was surprised to find that the Will had been rendered
invalid due to the holes left by the staple.

No staple or paper clip marks should appear on a Will as this could indicate a
Codicil, which had been attached and is now missing. If these marks appear on a
Will it is rendered invalid.

Date stamping
After the mail has been opened you should ensure that, where appropriate, each item is date
stamped. Date stamping the incoming mail helps identify when your legal firm received the mail.
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Original documents such as court documents, Wills, contracts and agreements should not be date
stamped. If a note of the date is required for original documents then a coloured sticky note can be
date stamped and stuck to the front of the document. For example, if a Will has been sent to a
client for signing and has then been sent back to the solicitors office for retention this Will would
require a date of receipt. Therefore, a coloured sticky note with a date stamp would be used. If you
are unsure as to whether an item should be date stamped ask your supervisor.

Each firm will have different procedures for date stamping incoming mail. For example, some firms
expect all incoming mail, other than original documents, to be date stamped on the reverse top left
hand corner. Ensure that you are clear on the date stamping procedure at your firm.

Be aware that some law firms require mail to be time stamped as well as date stamped. For
example, this is common practice in a city office where there may be a number of deliveries of mail
throughout the day.

Registering incoming mail


Many legal firms require all incoming mail to be entered in a register. Depending on the
procedures at your firm mail may be registered before it is date stamped. Check the Office Policy
and Procedures Manual or ask your supervisor about the process in place at your firm.

Mail can be registered either manually, in a mailbook or diary, or electronically on a computer,


again this will depend on the process in place at your firm. Keeping a register of all mail items
received helps ensure that mail can be tracked. This can prove to be very important in a legal firm
where dates can play such a significant role in matters. The specific information recorded on the
register will depend on the procedures followed by your firm, but normally the register will indicate
the date an item was received and to whom it was distributed. Be aware that some mail registers
will also indicate the method of delivery and the time at which the mail was received.

Example of an incoming mail register


Date
Mail
receive
d

Sender

Comment
s

Matter
Number

Attachme
nts

Sent to

Opened
by

28/7/08

Mr Yee

Letter

2008HG234
5

Vendors
Statement

Mr H.
Gleitman

Julie
Carpenter

28/7/08

Mrs
Osborn
e

Envelope
torn

2008MT123
4

N/A

Ms M.
Taylor

Julie
Carpenter

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28/7/08

Family
Court

Decree
nisi

2008IK289
3

N/A

Mr I.
Kruber

Julie
Carpenter

Once the mail has been registered it should be sorted and distributed to the appropriate personnel.
Note that you may be required to sort the mail before it is registered, again this will depend on the
procedures followed by your firm.

Sorting and distributing incoming mail


Introduction
Once the incoming mail has been opened, date stamped and registered it needs to be sorted and
then distributed to the appropriate personnel.

Sorting incoming mail


The way in which incoming mail should be sorted will depend on the procedures in place at your
firm. Ensure that you are aware of the procedures that are in place.

Depending on the size of your firm and the processes in place you would normally sort the mail by
department or by individual. Once the mail has been split in this manner you will be required to
sort the mail based on its importance. Urgent mail is usually at the top of the bundle, followed by
mail that has been sent by courier. Below this mail should be the private and confidential mail and
finally any general correspondence.

Note that your firm may have specific rules regarding the handling of cheques and invoices. Often
this type of mail will be directed to the accounts department or to a nominated person. Your
supervisor will indicate how to process this type of mail. Once the incoming mail has been sorted it
needs to be distributed to the appropriate personnel.

Distributing incoming mail


Each firm will have its own set of requirements with regards to the distribution of incoming mail.
Often the mail will need to be distributed by a specific time each morning. If you have been given
the responsibility of distributing the mail ensure that you are aware of the requirements in place.

In order to efficiently distribute the mail you will need to identify and understand the structure of
your firm and the titles and roles that each person has. This is especially important when you
receive a mail item that does not specifically indicate for whom it is intended. When this happens,
you will need to work out who the letter is for. This can be done by checking the reference, asking
your supervisor, calling the sender or reading the letter and then directing it to the appropriate
person or department. Often a firm will have a tree-structure or an employee list that will help you
identify each of the individuals and departments in your firm.

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Most of the incoming mail arrives in the morning and so you may be required to sort and distribute
the mail as your first task. However, you need to be aware that mail can arrive at other times of the
day. Make sure that you understand how to deal appropriately with mail as it arrives, as much of
this mail may be urgent.

Handling specific types of incoming mail


Introduction
Be aware that certain incoming mail items need to be dealt with according to specific processes.
These processes may be legal requirements or they may have been developed by your firm.

Processing original documents


Original documents, such as Wills, partnership agreements and duplicate Certificates of Title
should be processed according to the guidelines indicated in your firms policies and procedures
manual. However, a common practice when processing original documents is to conform to a
system known as indexing. Indexing involves the creation of a Deed Packet for each original
document. When an original document, or deed, is received a Deed Packet is created. A Deed
Packet is usually an envelope with the clients name and address, the matter number and a
description of the document, recorded on the outside. The original document is placed in the
envelope and registered in an index. The Deed Packet is then stored in a secure environment.
Other rules that you should be aware of include:

Original documents, such as, court documents, wills, contracts and agreements should not
be date stamped.

In most cases original documents should have a matter number applied to them.

Wills must never be attached to anything else as this may render them invalid.

Processing served documents


Served documents, such as summonses, may not arrive with the regular incoming mail as a
Process Server or a police officer usually serves them directly to the person named in the
document. When the client brings the served document to the law firm it should be processed
according to the court processes relevant to the specific document.

You should be aware however, that a solicitor can accept service of a document on behalf of the
person being served. This means that a document can be served in person at your office.
Generally, only the original proceedings are served on a client. After this has occurred the lawyer
accepts service of other documents which are normally served via DX or Australia Post. If you are
unclear as to how to process a served document, or you are having difficulty identifying a served
document ask your supervisor for help.

Identifying and distributing urgent and confidential mail


As with all other types of mail you should ensure that you follow the procedures in place at your
firm for mail that is marked "Urgent". As a general rule, ensure that urgent mail is delivered to the
appropriate person as soon as possible and is dealt with before other types of mail.

Unless you are specifically authorised to do so, never open mail that is marked "Private and
Confidential", "Personal", "Confidential" or similar. Your firm will probably have a procedure in
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place for dealing with this type of mail. Ensure that you are familiar with this procedure. If you
should accidentally open a confidential letter do not read the contents and place the letter back
into its envelope and write on the envelope Sorry, opened by mistake and your name or initials.

Dealing with damaged, suspicious and missing items correctly


Introduction
On occasions you will need to deal with mail that has been damaged, mail that appears suspicious
and lost mail items.

Damaged mail
Damaged mail should be sorted, date stamped and registered following the same process used for
other incoming mail. The damage should be recorded in the register.

Once the damaged item has been processed it should be delivered to the person to whom it has
been sent with an explanation regarding the fact that it arrived in a damaged condition. The
recipient can then decide what action, if any, needs to be taken.

Suspicious mail
Your firm will have specific procedures in place for dealing with suspicious mail items. Ensure that
you are aware of the procedures to follow. Do not attempt to open a suspicious item. If you are
suspicious about a particular item then discuss it with your supervisor immediately. If your
supervisor is unavailable then inform a Partner or another senior member of staff.

Missing items
Often an envelope will contain a covering letter and one or more enclosures. The covering letter
should indicate what enclosures, if any are meant to be included. Check that all the enclosures
detailed in the covering letter are, in fact, included. If an item is missing you should register the
letter and any enclosures that have been included and then inform the recipient of the letter that
certain enclosures are missing. The recipient can then decide what action needs to be taken.

Smith & Associates


Solicitors
DX 123 NEWCASTLE

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Do Activity 1- Receiving and Distributing Incoming Mail Activities (+ No 10


Practical Exercise).

CIRCULATION SLIPS

Your legal firm may receive publications which need to be


circulated to certain staff members. For example a magazine or
newsletter from the local council which would have articles of
interest to all the people in the Conveyancing department but not interest
people working in other areas of law.
To ensure that the material is circulated to all relevant parties you might
attach a Circulation Slip to the front of it which contains the names of all the
people who should receive the information. The recipients can then initial the
slip when they have viewed the contents, and pass the material on to the next
person on the list. You might put your name on the bottom of the list and the
material and circulation slip would then come back to you for filing.

FOR CIRCULATION
Please read, initial and pass on:
Name

Date Received

Date Passed on

Initials

Norman Oliver
(Conveyancing)
David Law
(Conveyancing)
Peter Adcock
(Conveyancing)
Priscilla Prentis
(Accounts)
Thomas Smart
(Admin)

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Receive and Despatch Outgoing Mail

Introduction
If you are provided with the responsibility of handling the outgoing mail you need to understand the
different ways that mail can be delivered and the processes involved with each delivery method.
You will also need to be clear on what you need to do in order to ensure that the mail is ready for
delivery.

The following topics cover the main areas that you need to be familiar with in terms of outgoing
mail:

Receiving and despatching outgoing mail

Handling bulk mail

Handling urgent mail

Which service should I use?

As you work your way through this material try the Services provided by DX and Australia Post
will be discussed in the following sections. Firstly, however, it is important to look at some of the
issues you should be aware of when sending mail by fax, email and by hand.

Fax
When you use a fax machine to deliver mail ensure that the legal practitioner has authorised you
to do so. It may be that the legal practitioner does not want certain documents to be sent by fax or
it may be that the environment is not secure at the receiving end.

If you have been authorised to use the fax to send mail of a confidentially sensitive nature always
ensure that the recipient is waiting at the other end. This can be done by calling the intended
recipient and confirming that they are standing by their fax machine. This should ensure that the
correct person receives the transmission and that it is not read by another party.

Other issues to consider when faxing mail include:

Ensuring that the correct number is used

Ensuring that the message has been transmitted correctly

Ensuring that a cover sheet has been included and that it has been completed correctly.

Once you have faxed a message it is a good idea to call the recipient and confirm that they have
received it.

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Australian Document Exchange (DX)


A common method of sending outgoing mail from a legal office is to use the Australian Document
Exchange. The Australian Document Exchange, which is also known as DX or Ausdoc, involves a
network of over 600 mail exchanges throughout Australia.

If your firm is a member of DX then you will need to consider the following:

What are the benefits of using DX?

What do you need to do when using DX?

What are the addressing requirements of DX?

Note: DX offers a Bulk Mail service which is discussed in the "Handling Bulk Mail" chapter of this
book.

What are the benefits of using DX?


It is generally recognised within the legal profession that a number of benefits are gained by using
DX. These include economic benefits, security benefits and efficiency benefits and the number and
type of members using DX. For these reasons a large number of legal firms utilise the DX service.

Economically, DX provides two main benefits. Firstly, a set annual fee applies regardless of the
quantity of mail you send within your state although additional charges apply to mail items sent
interstate. Secondly, no cost is incurred when documents or letters are returned to you.
The DX system provides a high level of security. For example, members boxes are locked,
document exchanges are always locked or supervised and mail items are transported in secured
bags by security personnel.

DX provides an efficient service by delivering overnight within a State or Territory and between
interstate capital cities. In large cities there is a same day service between Central Business
District (CBD) members.

Another benefit of the DX system to the legal profession is the number of members and the types
of members. There are over 20,000 members of DX nationwide. Members include private
companies. Any large items that you need to send via the DX system should be lodged in the
Large Items Lodgement Box, which is located in the exchange.

If you are required to send mail items via the DX system then you need to be aware of the
following:

Each lodgement box has a different cut off time by which mail items must be lodged.

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If you are sending mail items interstate you must use a prepaid INTEREX envelope or
satchel.

If you are sending items that are too large to fit in the Large Items Lodgement Box and
these items are under 15kg then you are required to purchase a prepaid sticker. The
sticker should be attached to the mail item.

DX provides a number of other services that may be of use to a legal office such as, regular fixed
run couriers, international express freight and Clear and Lodge.

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What do you need to do when using DX?


If you are required to use DX then it is important that you maximise the benefits that can be
derived from the system. The following are a few suggestions that you may find useful. Of course,
you should ensure that you follow any procedures that are in place in your office.
Issues to consider are:

You should always include your firms DX number in any correspondence. Usually, you will
find that the DX number has been included in the firms letterhead.

When dealing with outgoing mail it is important that you keep the DX mail separated from
other mail. For example, each day you may be required to take the DX mail to your
nearest exchange, if the DX mail has been kept separate then this is an easy task.
However, if it has become mixed with other mail then you will need to spend time sorting
mail items.

Ensure that you know where to locate a members DX number. The best way to locate a
DX number is by consulting the DX Directory of Members which is available in book format
or on a computer disk.

If you are addressing envelopes and the recipient is a member of DX then you should
address the envelope using the DX addressing standards.

Activities
Look at the Australian Document Exchange (DX) Internet Site www.dxmail.com.au.
Go to Processing Outgoing Mail Internet Activities in the Activity Section of the
booklet and do Activity 1 DX Mail.

Australia Post
Australia Post offers a range of services for delivering mail. Australia Post services can be used
where the recipients of mail items are not members of DX or where a special service is required,
such as Registered Post.

There are some specific requirements that you need to be aware of when using the Australia Post
service. The following are some of the most important issues that you need to be aware of:

Letter delivery

Parcel delivery

Registered delivery

Express post

International

Payment for Australia Post services

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Addressing requirements of Australia Post.

Note: Australia Post offers a Bulk Mail service which is discussed in the "Handling Bulk Mail"
section of this booklet.

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Letter delivery
Australia Post splits letters into two categories; small letters and large letters. Each category has
specific dimensions in terms of the height, width, thickness and weight of the letter. Letters can be
sent by Express Post if they need to be delivered by the next business day. Express Post is
discussed in more detail later. If the letter does not need to reach its destination by the next
business day then Ordinary Post can be used. Ordinary Post will normally ensure that mail items
reach their destination within two or three days of being posted.

Dimensions of letters for Ordinary Post


Small Letters

Large Letters

No larger than 130mm x 240mm.

No larger than 260mm x 360mm.

No smaller than 88mm x 138mm.

N/A.

No thicker than 5mm.

No thicker than 20mm.

No heavier than 250g.

Maximum weight 500g.

Activity
Look at the Australia Post Internet Site (www.australiapost.com.au) and find out
about the costs for sending different sizes of letters. Go to Processing Outgoing
Mail Internet Activities in the Activity Section of the booklet and do Activity 2
Australia Post Costs and Charges

Parcel delivery
On occasions you will need to have parcels delivered by Australia Post. Examples of parcels that
you may need to send include medical reports, photograph albums and books of accounts.

Scenario
Your firm has been working on behalf of a client who has been involved in a motor
accident. Your client has provided the lawyer with a photograph album containing
photographs taken at the scene of the accident and of the vehicles involved. The
matter is now settled and the photograph album needs to be returned to the client.
In this case you could send the album by Australia Posts Parcel Post service.

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Parcels can be sent by Express Post or by Ordinary Post. Express Post will be discussed in more
detail later. Ordinary Post will normally ensure that mail items reach their destination within two or
three days of being posted.

Within Parcel Post there are a number of special services that may be of use when delivering
particular types of documents. For example, Postpak offers a range of packaging for the safe
delivery of documents.

Activity 3
Look at the Australia Post Internet Site and read about the different types of parcel
services that are available. Choose any 4 different sized parcels you might send
from a legal office and write or type out the details including costs to send them.

Registered delivery
Registered Post is a service that provides an added level of security over other delivery services.
Registered Post offers:

A unique identification number for each article

Proof of posting

A signed record of delivery (the recipient will have to sign for the letter upon receipt)

Insurance cover of up to $100.

For an additional cost a range of other services can be added to the standard Registered Post
service. These additional services include extra insurance and pre-paid registered post.

Activity 4
Look at the Australia Post Internet Site and read about additional services available
with the Registered Post service. Some of these additional services may be
important when sending mail items from your legal office.
Go to Processing Outgoing Mail Internet Activities in the Activity Section of the
booklet and do Activity 5 on Registered Mail.

Express Post

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Express Post is a service that guarantees next day delivery for letters and parcels. It should be
noted however, that this service only guarantees next day delivery to addresses within the next
business day delivery network. Whilst this network is extensive, you should always check when
using this service that the destination of the mail item is within the network.

Letters up to 20mm thick can be sent in one of three pre-paid envelope sizes and letters more than
20mm thick and which weigh less than 3kg can be sent in one of two pre-paid Express Post
satchels. Express Post envelopes and satchels need to be pre-paid and should be posted in
Express Post GOLD posting boxes by 6pm (earlier in Perth and some provincial centres).

Any item up to 20kg with a maximum length of 105cm and a maximum girth of 140cm can be sent
by the Express Post Parcel service. The parcels need to be taken to a Post Office by 5pm (or
earlier at some Post Offices). An Express Post label needs to be completed and attached to the
parcel.

International items can also be sent using the Express Post service as discussed below.

Go to Processing Outgoing Mail Internet Activities in the Activity


Section of the booklet and do Activity 6 Express Post

International
Australia Post has a number of international services including, Business Post, Express Post,
Economy Air and Sea Post and Registered Post International. The particular service that is
appropriate will depend on the requirements of your mail item. If you are required to use one of
Australia Posts international services ensure that you understand the standards of delivery that
apply to each particular service.

Activity 7
Look at the Australia Post Internet Site and read about the different
international services that are available.
Go to Processing Outgoing Mail Internet Activities in the Activity Section of
the booklet and do Activity 8 Post Office Locator.
Payment for Australia Post services
Depending on the size of your firm you may be given the responsibility for paying for postage in
regards to the Australia Post services used. For example, if you work for a small firm you may be
required to purchase stamps and pre-paid envelopes. On the other hand if you work for a large
firm then you may find that the firm has an account with the Post Office. If this is the case, then
you may be required to complete a form indicating the items being sent and the cost of postage.
The firm will then receive a bill each month for the total amount of postage used.
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Scenario
You are currently working for a medium sized law firm that has an account with the
local Post Office. Each time you send mail items you are required to calculate the
correct postage that needs to be paid.

In order to work out the costs of particular mail items you can use the Postage
Assessment Calculator on the Australia Post Internet Site or the Australia Post
booklet.

Another common method of payment that you should become familiar with is the use of Postage
Meters. Postage Meters are machines that allow letters to be stamped with the correct amount of
postage. A letter is fed into the machine and a postage impression is printed onto the envelope.
You need to ensure that you understand the amount to be charged for each item. You can find
these postage rates on the Australia Post Internet Site or you can contact your nearest Post Office.

Be aware that Postage Meters are replacing Franking Machines. Franking Machines perform
essentially the same functions as Postage Meters. The main difference is that new funds are
added to Postage Meters via a modem link to the meter suppliers central resetting centre. A
Franking Machine has new funds added by taking a portable section of the machine to a Post
Office.

If you have been given responsibility for using a Postage Meter or a Franking Machine ensure that
you understand how it operates. If you have any questions regarding the use of these machines
then ask your supervisor or contact Australia Post.

Addressing requirements for Australia Post


Why is the format of an address so important?
Australia Post uses advanced letter sorting technology to read the address on each envelope
electronically. These machines work best when address formats are structured in a consistent
manner.
That is why it is necessary to address your mail clearly and correctly. The information below
demonstrates how.
Envelope Layout
It is important that the zones on the envelope, indicated below, are observed at all times.

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I
Typically, the address should be written in three lines:
1. The top line should contain the recipients name
2. The second last line should contain the number and name of the street, or PO Box or
locked bag number if applicable
3. The last line should contain the place name or post office of delivery, State or Territory
abbreviation and postcode. This line should be printed in capitals without punctuation or
underlining. For overseas mail the country name should be in capitals on the bottom line.
Where extra clarifying information is required, place this information above the last two lines of the
address. This includes information such as:

company or property name

non-address information, e.g. Attention Mr/Ms J Jones

For example:
Mr & Mrs J Browne
The Plaza
234 Hill Street
NEWCASTLE NSW 2300

Mr P Hudson
Hudsons Housing Company Pty Ltd
P O Box 123
GOSFORD NSW 2500

Handling outgoing mail


If you have been given the responsibility of handling the outgoing mail from your office then you
need to be aware of the following issues:

Collecting and sorting outgoing mail

Using the outgoing mail register.

Collecting and sorting outgoing mail


Each legal firm will have its own preferred method for collecting and sorting the outgoing mail. If
these methods are not documented in the firms Policies and Procedures Manual then make sure
you consult your supervisor.

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Some firms will expect you to collect the mail that needs to be sent that day from various locations.
This may include lawyers offices and other offices, such as accounts or administration offices.
Other legal firms will have a procedure that involves all personnel depositing their outgoing mail in
a central location.

Whatever process is in place in your office make sure that both you and the other members of
your firm are aware of it. You should also endeavour to adhere to this process at all times. For
example, if you usually pick up mail from a central location at 4.30pm make sure that you do not
pick it up early one day as a lawyer may have a mail item that needs to be sent that night.
Once you have collected the outgoing mail you need to sort it by the appropriate delivery method.
For example, you may end up with the following groups of mail: DX mail, Australia Post mail,
courier mail and hand delivered mail. If you pick up mail from a central location it may be helpful to
have a separate receptacle for the different types of mail. This should help reduce the time you
spend sorting the mail.

Recording all outgoing items in an Outgoing Mail Register is good business practice. The Register
may include such details as the date of despatch, sender, senders department, name of
addressee and organisation, method of delivery (eg courier, Aust Post normal mail, Express Post,
Registered Mail, air mail etc), file reference number, value and cost of sending the item.

Ensure that you are clear as to the process followed at your office for completing the Outgoing
Mail Register.

Example of an Outgoing Mail Register


Date mail
sent

Sender

Matter
Number

Content

Sent to

Method
of
delivery

Cost of
delivery

18/09/2008

H Gleitman

2008HG2355

Copy of
Vendors
Statement

Smith & Tong


Solicitors,
SYDNEY

DX

N/A

18/09/2008

H Gleitman

2008HG2247

Urgent
Progress
Report

Mr & Mrs P
Davenport
12 Rocky
Road,
Newcastle
2300

Express
Post

$4.10

Do Outgoing Mail Exercise (Outgoing Mail Register)

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BULK MAIL
Introduction
Bulk Mail refers to a mail out of a number of items at the same time. Examples of bulk mail outs
include monthly accounts, marketing mailouts and newsletters. The number of items that
constitutes a bulk mailing is dependent on the postal organisation used.

PreSort Letters
Australia Posts bulk mail service, the PreSort Letters Service requires customers to lodge in
excess of 300 mail items of the same size category and weight step. The amount saved on
postage costs will depend on the level of presorting undertaken prior to lodgement (eg letters
could be sorted into trays containing the same category of letters addressed to a postcode range
or into trays containing the same category of letters all addressed to the same State). There are
two standards of delivery, depending on the urgency of mailings, regular and off-peak (for less
urgent mailings).

Print Post
Print post is a service designed for the delivery of publications. Publishers of regular
newsletters and magazines can save money using this service.

Local Delivery Service


This service is available to senders who live or carry on a business within or adjacent
to postcode areas serviced by the delivery office. The conditions are that there must
be at least 50 letters (10 in a small community); they must be lodged over the counter
of the Post Office of delivery; and the same senders address in the local postcode
area must be on the outside of each envelope. This service operates only in certain
postcodes.

Australia Post, DX and a number of courier companies offer a bulk mail service. The specific
requirements of each service will depend on a number of factors, including the quantity of the mail,
the destination of the mail and the size and weight of the mail items. If you are required to organise
a bulk mailing ensure that you know which postal organisation you are using and any specific
requirements that may be in place. This will help ensure that your bulk mailing is successful.

Organising a bulk mailing


If you are required to organise a bulk mailing then you need to ensure that you understand what is
involved, the date of the mailing and the resources you may require. Whenever you are given
responsibility for a bulk mailing the first thing you should do is enter the details into your diary. You
should then create a Task List of the tasks that you need to perform to complete the mailing. This
should help ensure that the mailing is a success.

Understanding what is involved in a bulk mailing will help you plan enough time to complete all the
tasks required. For example, you may be required to collate several sheets, or it may be that you
have to perform a mail merge or there may be some photocopying required.
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Knowing the date of the mailing will allow you to plan backwards from this date. Thus allowing you
enough time to complete the tasks required for the mailing.

There may be a number of resources that you need for a bulk mailing, such as envelopes and
address labels. For example, a DX bulk mailing to interstate recipients may require the use of
INTEREX envelopes or satchels.

Other resources that you need to consider include the photocopier, computer printer, paper and
paper clips. Being aware of the resources you require will help you ensure that they are available
at the time of the mail out. For example, you cannot just assume that the photocopier will be free
when you need it. You should plan a time when you need to use the photocopier and then
negotiate with other members of staff to ensure that this time is suitable for them.

Tasks that you may need to perform


If you are required to conduct a bulk mailing there are a number of tasks that you may need to
perform. You should ensure that you have added these tasks to your Task List and that you plan
enough time to complete each task. These tasks include:

Performing a mail merge

Collating documents

Printing address labels

Sorting mail items

Lodging mail items.

Performing a mail merge


In some instances you may be required to perform a mail merge for a bulk mail out. For example,
a legal practitioner may have approved a letter to be sent to a number of clients. As only certain
details in the main document need to change, for example the name and address of the recipient,
you can use the mail merge function in your word processing package.

It is important to coordinate the mail merge task with the bulk mail out deadlines. You need to
ensure that sufficient time is available to complete the mail merge.

When you complete a mail merge ensure that the addresses on the letters match the addresses
on the envelopes.

Collating documents
For some mail outs you may be required to collate a number of separate documents and place
them into envelopes. If you are required to do this, you should ensure that you have all the
required documents and that you are clear as to which documents are to be sent to each recipient.
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Printing address labels


Often you may use address labels, which can be quickly adhered to an envelope. Often these
labels can be printed beforehand, saving you time during the bulk mailing.

Sorting mail items


Each postal organisation will have specific requirements as to the way in which bulk mail items
need to be sorted. For example, Australia Post requires customers to sort items into bundles of at
least 20 letters.

Ensure that you understand the sorting requirements of the service provider you are using for your
bulk mailing.

Lodging mail items


Service providers have specific requirements with regards to the lodging of a bulk mailing. These
requirements may include the lodgement time deadlines and the documentation that may need to
be included with the bulk mailing.

If you are conducting a bulk mail out ensure that you ask your supervisor for directions or contact
your service provider.

Activity
Scenario
You work for a very large firm and you have been asked to organise a bulk mailing
for your firms newsletter. Your supervisor has asked you to use Australia Post as
the service provider. In order to ensure that you sort and lodge the mail
appropriately you should access Australia Posts Internet Site and read about their
Bulk Mail requirements. Write a procedure for organising the bulk mailing for
people to follow next time the newsletter is sent. Include estimating quantities,
resources, time, sorting and batching, lodging in time for delivery.

There will be 400 letters use the PreSort Letters Service. They will all be delivered
in NSW, and they are not urgent.

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Handling Urgent Mail


Introduction
There are times when items need to be sent urgently. For
example, Briefs are often sent urgently to Barristers in order to
meet tight deadlines. Failure to ensure an urgent delivery can on occasions lead to problems.
Therefore, it is important that you understand how to deal with urgent mail items.

Scenario
A Legal Administration Assistant was asked to send a Brief urgently to a Barrister
as the Barrister was due to appear in Court at 10:00am the next morning. The
assistant chose to send the Brief by DX, which resulted in the Barrister not
receiving the Brief before 10:00am. The Barrister had to attend Court without the
Brief. Fortunately the Barrister was able to use his mobile phone to receive a
briefing on the matter from the lawyer. In this case the assistant should have sent
the Brief by courier.

In order to ensure that you can deal with urgent mail deliveries you need to be aware of the
following:

Identifying the best option for an urgent mail item

Preparing urgent mail for despatch

Following up on an urgent mail item.

Identifying the best option for an urgent mail item


The particular method of delivery for an urgent mail item will depend on a number of factors
including when the mail needs to reach its destination and the location of the delivery point. For
example, an item may need to reach its intended address within two hours. The best option in this
instance may be to use a courier, however if the address is close by and you have time then it may
be better to hand deliver the item.
In order to identify the best method for an urgent delivery, you need to ask the following questions.

When does the item need to reach its destination?

What is the address of the delivery point?

What are the wishes of the legal practitioner?

If appropriate, do you have time to hand deliver the item?

Once you have the answers to these questions you can then determine the most appropriate
method of delivery. If you are ever unsure as to the best method of delivery you can ask your
supervisor or the legal practitioner for whom the urgent item is being sent.
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There are a number of options for delivering urgent mail. These methods include:

Hand delivery

DX

Australia Post

Couriers.

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Hand delivery
You may be required to hand deliver an urgent mail item. If you are required to do so then ensure
that you clarify where the mail is to be picked up from and when it needs to be delivered.

Although you should attempt to deliver the mail to the addressee this is not always possible, for
example, you may have to leave a mail item with a receptionist. Therefore, it is a good idea to
keep a record of what mail you have hand delivered, when it was delivered and to whom it was
delivered. Keeping a record of your deliveries will help you confirm who received the mail and
when. Sometimes the information recorded will be used to prepare an Affidavit confirming the
delivery of the mail item.

On occasions you may be required to hand deliver a mail item using a taxi.

Scenario
A client of a legal practice needed to travel overseas on an urgent matter.
Unfortunately, the legal practice had the clients passport and visa. The client
requested that the documents be urgently delivered to the travel agents where he
was making his travel arrangements. In this case the Legal Administration
Assistant hand delivered the documents using a taxi.

DX
DX offer a range of courier services including:

Express - 20 minute response in city

Semi-Express - 1 hour response in the city

An interstate same day delivery from capital city to capital city

An international service.

Couriers
Courier companies offer a wide variety of services including, 20 minute delivery in the CBD and a
two hour service within a citys boundaries. Ensure that you understand the full range of services
available from the courier company you are using. For example, if you have a mail item that needs
to be delivered urgently and a suitable courier service is not available then you may need to use a
taxi to deliver the item.

Be aware that some legal firms will use courier companies to deliver documents to clients.
Couriers are used to deliver documents because of the speed of delivery and the proof of receipt
that is part of the service.

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You may find that your firm has a contract with a specific courier company to deliver urgent items.
Your supervisor will be able to tell you if this is the case. If your firm does not have a contract with
a company then you will need to identify a company that offers a service that is appropriate for the
particular mail item. You can use the Yellow Pages or the Internet to identify courier companies in
your area.

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Activity 9
Look at the courier company Internet Sites to gain an understanding of the
services offered by different companies. Choose one and write about a
page outlining the services they provide.
Preparing urgent mail for despatch
As with other outgoing mail items you should prepare urgent mail items
appropriately. Depending on the delivery method used, there may be a
number of tasks that you have to perform to prepare the mail. As
appropriate these tasks may include the following:

Checking that the correct contents are included

Checking that the correct address has been attached

Contacting the service provider

Weighing the mail item

Ensuring that the correct wrapping is used, such as a satchel.

Each service provider may have other specific requirements, such as the completion of certain
documentation that you need to be aware of. If you are unclear as to how to prepare an item you
can contact the service provider.

Following up on an urgent mail item


If you have sent a mail item urgently you need to ensure that the mail item has arrived. The best
way to do this is to contact the person to whom the item was being sent. You can contact this
person either by telephone or by email.
Usually courier companies provide a reference number for each mail item. Ensure that you keep a
copy of this number, by entering it in the Outgoing Mail Register.

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Which service should I use?


Although there are no hard and fast rules as to which delivery service you
should use, the following table may help identify the best service for
particular situations.

Note: The following table is a guide only and is not exhaustive. You should
always follow any policies and procedures that your firm has in place with regards to the delivery
of outgoing mail.

Criteria

Suggested Service

A non urgent small letter that is to be


delivered to a person who is not a member of
DX.

Australia Posts Ordinary Post service.

A non urgent parcel that is to be delivered to


a company that is not a member of DX.

Australia Posts Parcel Delivery service.

A non urgent letter that needs to have a


proof of delivery. The letter is to be delivered
to a person who is not a member of DX.

Australia Posts Registered Delivery service.

A parcel that needs to be delivered by the


next business day. The parcel is being sent
to a person who is not a member of DX.

Australia Posts Express Post Parcel service.

A non urgent letter that is to be delivered to


an organisation that is a member of DX.

DX

A letter that needs to be delivered overnight


to a destination within your State. The
recipient is a member of DX.

DX

An urgent letter that needs to be delivered


within one hour. The delivery address is
within the CBD and the recipient is a
member of DX.

A courier company.

Do Handling Urgent Mail questions in booklet.

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