Do you automatically use the “reply all” button on your email? Or, do you think nothing of forwarding email from one person to another? If so, you need to stop and think about the potential risks involved. As attorneys, we all too often see instances where legal advice we forward to a client via email is forwarded on to a group of folks, then comes circling back to us as part of a lengthy email chain which includes employees of our client, but also includes other individuals not subject to the attorney-client privilege. In this modern day of television legal shows, the term “attorney-client privilege” gets thrown around in all sorts of contexts as many of them incorrect as those which are accurate. Beware unintentionally waiving your rights!
“Bcc” can be just as dangerous as a “reply all” will include that person and in doing so may put an attorney in touch with an opposing party (which is an ethical violation).
Simply put, if you receive information from your attorney, think very carefully before you forward it verbatim to anyone. And make certain to whom a “reply all” is actually going. Do they all really need to see your response? Once revealed to someone not subject to the protections of the privilege, all bets are off and that email may become evidence against you in future legal action. It should go without saying that information, advice, or observations shared with you by your attorney are not intended for a broader audience. Sharing it may hamper the strategy for your case, harm your negotiating position, or in some instances place you in economic if not physical peril.