I was involved in a multiparty email exchange about a pre-trial scheduling order. As sometimes happens in conversations among many lawyers about how much time to allot to discovery, expert disclosures, and dispositive motion deadlines, things went a little sideways. And since all this communication was occurring by email, no one could read anyone’s tone, and each inferred the worst from the other parties to the exchange.
Everyone was sitting in his or her own office getting progressively more frustrated. I got an email from one lawyer putting opposing counsel on blast. Just really letting him have it. The allegations were that he was bad at his job and his client would be best served by firing him. He was lazy and incompetent. And he was a total moron. But the language was much more harsh.
Then I noticed the contents of the To and CC boxes. The sender had hit REPLY ALL. Everyone in the email chain had the joy of reading his email and knowing he had unwittingly exposed his innermost loathing to everyone. There was a lot of schadenfreude involved in this part. You’ll not be surprised to learn that we didn’t succeed in agreeing to the proposed scheduling order.
REPLY ALL is an option, but shouldn’t be the default
You and I both know people who use REPLY ALL as their default email response. Usually it’s in response to a firmwide email for whom the original sender is the only person interested in the response. But it’s a terrible habit that can result in … unfortunate and unforeseen consequences. Don’t be that guy who uses REPLY ALL as your default email response.
That’s it. That’s all there is today. Just a gentle reminder that REPLY ALL should be the exception, not the rule, when it comes to responding to emails.
And one more thing. I’ve heard folks say, Never put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want read back to you by a judge. That’s a good rule to live by. Keep it in mind next time you want to send a nasty email. You likely don’t want that made an exhibit to a motion.
Photo by Mark Robinson.