Malpractice risk from disclosing “unsolicited” email communications – are disclaimers effective?

Major law firm has been sued by a prospective client for legal malpractice. The law firm allegedly communicated confidential information by disclosing an email in which the potential client sought representation as a possible whistleblower.

According to the suit, plaintiff emailed an attorney of the firm requesting legal representation. The request contained privileged information regarding a possible whistleblower claim against plaintiff’s employer (the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, “TCEQ”). Plaintiff typed the lawyer’s email address into his email, rather than clicking on the link. He never saw a disclosure statement warning potential clients that unsolicited communications are not privileged but expected that the email enjoyed the privilege associated with communicating with an attorney regarding a potential legal matter.

After the contacted lawyer declined representation, Plaintiff received a notice of TCEQ’s intent to fire him based on his contact with a “Houston law firm.” The notice had language mimicking his email to the law firm, according to the complaint.

Plaintiff accused law firm of negligence and asked for $300,000 in damages.

The text of the suit is available at https://s3.amazonaws…

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