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RPM Tip: Be on the lookout in Outlook

Email is one of the most widely used tools when it comes to communicating with clients and colleagues, but many are not aware of some of the inherent pitfalls of this otherwise useful tool! Be mindful of the following:

  1. Out of Office:  with summer vacation time fast approaching, do you want to notify the world that your home may be unoccupied? Limit “out of office” replies to internal contacts only and arrange to have a staff member or colleague monitor your inbox, or when enabling “auto-reply to people outside my organization”, click the radio button beside “my contacts only”.
  2. Auto-complete: Outlook tracks your email habits and saves a list of contacts you email most often. The moment you begin typing a contact name in the “to” field, it uses that list to try to predict the intended recipient. A wrong mouse click and you could send sensitive client information to the wrong recipient. To disable auto-complete, go to: file<options<mail and under “send messages” select or clear “use auto-complete list to suggest names when typing in the To, CC, and BCC lines” check box.
  3. The BCC option is an easy way to include a client in the loop on all outgoing communication; however, if the BCC recipient inadvertently “replies to all”, the client’s identity will be exposed.  A better option is to simply forward the email communication to their attention.
  4. Speaking of “reply to all”: this option can fill up recipients’ inboxes rather quickly. To disable this option, Microsoft developed a plug-in called “No Reply All”. Another option is to download another plug-in called “Reply to All Monitor”. Rather than remove the option altogether, a warning pops up before you hit “send”. Also beneficial when you have been BCC’d on an email. See #3 above.

At the very least, these tips can save you the embarrassment of emailing or copying unintended recipients. At most, it can save you from breaching solicitor/client privilege. 

If you have any questions on these or any other risk- or practice-related matters, do not hesitate to contact Stacey Gerrard, LIANS Counsel with the Risk and Practice Management Program, at sgerrard@lians.ca or call 902 423 1300 ext. 345.