Be Careful When You Hit “Reply All”

Email is perhaps the most common means of communication in use today. It’s cheap, fast, convenient, and easy. Email allows us to receive and respond to information near instantaneously.

However, reacting too fast can be dangerous. Most of us have regretted hitting send without thinking an email through enough on at least one occasion.

The risks of clicking too fast is particularly hazardous with emails from your lawyer. Communications, including emails, between lawyers and their clients are considered confidential and privileged to a very high degree. The law wants clients to be able to speak completely freely with their attorneys, without the fear of anyone using what they say against them, and it wants the client to be able to keep the advice the lawyer gives them equally secret. There are many such “privileged” communications in the law, such as between doctors and patients, accountants and their clients, spouses, Etc. But none as powerful as the attorney-client privilege. A client can confess to a murder to his lawyer and the lawyer is prohibited from reporting the client to the police.

A client can waive this powerful privilege. This is where the dangers of email come into play. Including third-parties in the communication prevents it from being privileged.

In modern times, attorneys and their staff frequently send emails to opposing lawyers on cases and either copy or blind copy their clients. This is a useful way to keep the clients aware of what is going on with the case. A client that wants to talk to the attorney and staff that replies to the email, it would still be a confidential communication because only client and attorneys/staff are included. However, when the client hits “Reply All,” rather than “Reply,” the opposing lawyers will get a copy of the email, which can potentially destroy the privilege.

So, it is very important to use “Reply,” instead of “Reply All,” when you want to respond to an email that your attorney or his staff sends.

If you or someone you know is seeing legal advice in this area, please call me today for a FREE in-house consultation.