Reducing email risks of malpractice (part 2)

July 17, 2012
Fulton County Daily Report

Two examples make the point. First, an associate at a large law firm receives an email from a college classmate asking about the best way to get his security deposit back from his landlord. The associate does some quick research and sends along the relevant statute with some suggested language for a demand for the return of the security deposit. His classmate forwards the email along to the landlord with a threatening email of his own.

As it turns out, the landlord is one of the law firm's largest clients. The implications are serious. It is an obvious ethical conflict of interest. But for the law firm, there is the much more significant client relations problem.

Second, an attorney receives an email from a neighbor advising that his daughter had been in an automobile accident and had received a traffic citation. His question is whether his daughter should contest the citation or simply pay the fine. The attorney replies to the email, asking if the daughter had any defense. When the neighbor responds with "no," the attorney suggests in a follow-up email that the daughter just pay the fine. Some time later, the neighbor reports that his daughter is now being sued by the other driver for the accident, and his insurance company has refused to defend the lawsuit because he did not report it immediately. He says his new attorney says that he should have been told that he needed to report the accident to his insurance company when he asked about it and points to the email string.

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