Relying on your e-mail provider’s auto-complete feature can result in privileged information landing in the wrong hands. More importantly, reviewing that privileged information can lead to disqualification.

Always Check Twice

Before sending an e-mail, glance at your recipient list. If your e-mail client only displays names and not addresses, click on the names to make sure the addresses are current. It doesn’t do you any good if it’s an old address. Instead of bouncing back, that privileged information could end up in anyone’s hands.

If double-checking isn’t in your nature, you can also disable auto-complete. Techie Buzz explains how to disable auto-complete with popular e-mail clients Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Eudora, and Yahoo!. In Gmail, the labs feature ‘Got the Wrong Bob?’ will check to make sure you meant to send the e-mail to Bob Smith and not Bob Jones.

Learn from Others’ Mistakes

A federal judge in California recently ordered the disqualification of a law firm after attorneys at the firm read e-mails containing privileged information. According to LegalPad, the plaintiffs’ e-mail provider auto–populated the address field with a defendant’s e-mail address. Defendant’s in-house lawyer acknowledged receiving the e–mails, and said “she realized the material was probably privileged.” However, she inadvertently revealed some of the privileged information to outside counsel. Judge Jeffrey White disqualified the outside counsel.


The Small Firm Scorecard example graphic.

The Small Firm ScorecardTM

Is your law firm structured to succeed in the future?

The practice of law is changing. You need to understand whether your firm is positioned for success in the coming years. Our free Small Firm Scorecard will identify your firm’s strengths and weaknesses in just a few minutes.

Leave a Reply