Internet divided over lawyer who answered everything on email, embarrassing colleague

A Redditor asks the internet for advice about a recent possible faux pas at work and the internet is divided.

The Redditor, who posted in the thread “Am I The A**hole” under the username Born-Replacement-366, said he wasn’t sure he was doing the right thing when dealing with a challenging colleague, in a post with over 12,000 votes.

The poster explained that he works as a corporate lawyer for a multinational company. He said someone in the sales department continues to copy him in email chains with “third party affiliates” seeking legal advice.

“He’s doing this without any courtesy or context,” the Redditor wrote.

LinkedIn lists three reasons to use the reply-all feature on an email: “You have relevant questions,” “your response may have an immediate effect on others,” or “you’re scheduling a small-group meeting.” Featured in one piece on the guard, the writer warned that using the ‘answer all’ function is ‘usually never’.

“Here’s a situation where I think it’s absolutely necessary to answer everyone: Just as a company-wide email has landed in your inbox, you’ve noticed the office is on fire and you don’t have time to write a new email for all employees [‘Subject line: Fire’]Elle Hunt wrote for the guard in 2017. This Redditor apparently hadn’t read Hunt’s piece.

The Redditor wrote that he initially tried to be polite about this indiscretion, telling the colleague that these companies have their own legal departments and advising them that they would take “unnecessary risks” to their business.

“I would also sacrifice privileges,” wrote Born-Replacement-366. “He said he understood, but after a few weeks he would do the same.”

He said the breaking point was when the colleague copied him on a conversation with a company that their company might have a dispute with. He said he removed all third parties from the thread and replied to all other people who worked at their company.

“‘Account [not his real name], you must STOP dropping your legal counsel in the middle of third party email threads without any warning or context,” he wrote. “My job is to advise our company, NOT to advise counterparties with who we potential disputes. You CANNOT keep doing this. You are endangering the interests of our company. Also tell your team.'”

He said “Bill” was unresponsive, although mutual colleagues said he had gone too far.

“I understand I could have been more polite, but I was frustrated because Bill has been doing this consistently and didn’t seem to internalize my more polite previous warnings.”

Reddit Missteps in the Workplace
A man took to Reddit to seek advice on a possible workplace faux pas. This stock photo shows a person typing on a computer.
AntonioGuillem/Getty Images

Comments on the thread were divided as to whether the Redditor was reasonable to take such measures with his colleague.

“NEW [well, NTA beyond being a lawyer]- I’m also a lawyer,’ someone interrupted. “You told him once. He kept doing it. There are perfectly valid reasons why he should stop.”

Another commenter started with “ESH” – or: “Everyone sucks here”

“You intended to disgrace him and you succeeded, but more importantly, you also came across as being unreasonably cruel to some of your other colleagues,” this commenter wrote. “You could probably have delivered the same message privately. And at the same time, he had a number of exits to avoid getting to this point. An unfortunate circumstance for both of you.’

The original Redditor said he heard some of his subordinates mimicking the email “with taste” and found that they’d been through similar things with Bill.

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