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Pet Names for Clients and Opposing Counsel? Bad Idea

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

Sometimes we send ourselves gentle reminders to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.

A note on the freezer that almonds are a healthier snack than ice cream? Totally okay.

Changing the client-from-hell's name in your phone to "Do not Answer: Client from Hell"? Not such a good idea.

Even if that jolt of caller-ID recognition would save you from an unpleasant conversation, it could come back to haunt you in other ways.

After a recent Outlook debacle -- yes, we're continuing our obsession with common email mistakes -- a friend attempted to comfort us with her own tale of email humiliation.

It started with a classic boy meets girl story. When the girl realized that the boy was no good for her, she changed his name in her phone to "Do Not Answer: "Tom" is an A**".

Effective right? No more accidental answering. The only problem is that she did this in a smartphone. And she occasionally had contact with "Tom" in her professional life.

Everything was fine until the day the she had to hit "Reply All" on a business email to a group working on a project.

Did we mention that "Tom" was in that group?

When you send or reply to an email using your smartphone, the phone automatically detects a saved email address in your contact list and associates the name you saved in your contacts with that email address in your email response. Confused? Let's put this in the most shameful terms possible.

When this woman sent a "reply all" email from her phone to the group -- including Tom -- it changed Tom's associated name on the email from "Tom" to "Do Not Answer: Tom's an A**." And anyone looking at the recipients on the "To" field from her email could see that.

You may not want to answer calls from pesky former clients or cranky opposing counsel, but changing their names in your smartphone is an easy way to get a reputation as an unprofessional lawyer. Even if those pet names help you dodge an unwanted phone call today, they could lead to a much bigger email mistake tomorrow.

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