Communication via email has become a ubiquitous means of conveying information in the practice of law. Also common are email chains where multiple people are recipients, and the ability to reach a great many people with the simple click of a button, the one that says “reply all.” Beyond the obvious warning to attorneys to be careful about the contents of email and who you are conveying that information to, there is a more subtle question at work with the “reply all” option. If your client is one of the recipients on such an email, and if that email includes your adversary, does that invite your adversary to respond in kind and include your client in a subsequent reply? And if you are the attorney who hits “reply all,” do you then run afoul of the ethical obligation not to communicate with a represented party pursuant to ABA Model Rule 4.2, the longstanding proscription against contact between an attorney and a represented party?
These issues were recently taken up by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which issued Formal Opinion 503 addressing the subject. The Formal Opinion takes the position that an attorney who hits “reply all” essentially invites other parties to respond in kind. Thus, an attorney who does just that is not in violation of ABA Model Rule 4.2 should that communication include a represented party. While the better practice would be for an attorney to refrain from including their own client in chain-type communications where the adverse attorney is a recipient, and should utilize the option of sending copies of such communications separately, the adverse attorney does not violate ethical principles in the event that occurs and a response is generated on which the adverse party’s client is a recipient.
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If you’ve suffered harm due to your lawyer’s actions, you may be entitled to file a New Jersey legal malpractice claim. However, succeeding in a New Jersey legal malpractice claim can be difficult without the assistance of an experienced Hackensack legal malpractice attorney. At Rosenblatt Law, our experienced attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of your situation and determine whether your attorney’s actions or inactions constitute legal malpractice. We’ll then advise you on the best course of action based on your unique circumstances and work diligently to achieve a successful outcome in your New Jersey legal malpractice case. If you believe you have been harmed by your attorney, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.