We hire attorneys for a variety of reasons. Maybe you're starting a new business, have concerns that a competitor is infringing on your trademark, or are trying to resolve a contentious probate matter. Whatever the reason, it can be extremely easy to let your personal legal matter command your attention during office hours. For example:
- Your attorney has left you a voice message asking you to email something to them, and you want to respond now before you forget..
- You're so stressed by your upcoming real estate litigation that you want to talk to someone, even if it's your coworker across the hall.
It's natural to want to seek advice and support from colleagues or even discuss the issue with your attorney during work hours. However, employees should exercise caution when mentioning legal matters at the office or using company resources to do so. This blog offers practical advice for maintaining professional boundaries as you work through your case.
Don't Email Your Attorney at Work
Using a company email account to discuss legal matters can pose significant risks, especially if the messages contain sensitive and confidential information. If the company receives a subpoena for any reason, such emails could be revealed in court, regardless of their relevance to your job or the company's operations.
To avoid these risks, it's best to use your personal email account to communicate with your attorney. This ensures that any sensitive or confidential information is kept private and away from the company's email system. It's also important to remember that using company resources for personal legal matters, including email accounts, can violate company policies and could result in disciplinary action or termination.
Keep It Tight With Coworkers
Discussing personal legal matters with coworkers can be tempting, especially if the situation is stressful or overwhelming. However, doing so could result in your confidential information being spread everywhere. This could potentially damage your reputation and even the outcome of your case, especially if subpoenas are later issued. Anything you reveal in assumed confidence can come back to haunt you later.
To avoid these risks, it's best to keep your legal matters private and not discuss them with coworkers. Instead, seek advice and support from trusted friends and family members or consult with your attorney outside of work.
Tell the Boss What They Need to Know- and Nothing More!
Sometimes you have no choice but to let the company know you have a case in progress. Perhaps a process server has shown up at the front desk with a summons and complaint or you're scheduled to testify on a certain day and will need to be out of the office. In that case, you should definitely advise your supervisor.
Explain the situation briefly and provide any necessary details, such as the date and time of the court appearance. Be honest about any potential impact on your work, such as time off needed for court appearances, any required travel, or any impact on work schedule or workload. If possible, suggest potential solutions, such as working remotely or adjusting work hours to accommodate the court case. By being respectful and professional, you can help ensure that the situation is handled appropriately and with minimal impact on work responsibilities.
Legal cases can be sensitive and confidential, and discussing them at work can create unnecessary risks and conflicts. By maintaining professional boundaries and respecting confidentiality, you can avoid jeopardizing your case or letting it impact your career.
At Hamilton Law, we regularly assist clients with situations related to estate planning, business law, trademark and brand protection, probate, and more. We understand the importance of separating your personal and professional matters and can advise you on how to maintain a healthy boundary between the two. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today.
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