ALMOST 30 lawyers received a job advertisement email last week from a recruitment company that mistakenly revealed the email addresses of the other recipients.
In yet another example of the dangers of email, the sender copied in, instead of blind copying, all the recipients. This, Lawyers Weekly has learned, led the recipients to think it appeared they were searching for other jobs.
Recipients included lawyers from Middletons, Baker & McKenzie, Clayton Utz, Freehills, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Maddocks, Blake Dawson Waldron, Macquarie Bank and St George Bank.
Lawyers Weekly spoke to two of the recipients, who expressed mixed reactions to the appropriateness of the email that the company, Advantage Partnership, labelled an “honest mistake”.
One recipient, a lawyer from Melbourne, said she was annoyed to find her name amongst those targeted by the group email, as it gave the erroneous impression that she wanted to leave her current job.
“I was quite shocked actually and very concerned about the impression that it created to others on the list about me, in that I thought it created the impression I’d been looking for a change of employment,” she said.
“It was bad for my image and reputation, and potentially damaging to my employment,” she said. “My next response was that I felt that it was a breach of privacy and that it was really an act of spam.”
The lawyer said that many of the other names on the list were known to her and her to them, and they ranged in experience from a partner at a major firm to senior associates. A quick check of the list shows email addresses included lawyers from most of the top tier of Australia’s law firms.
The incident raised questions about how the list of names was compiled. The lawyer believes the list includes Japanese-speaking lawyers who were admitted in Sydney, and may have originated from the New South Wales Law Society website.
The ‘find a lawyer’ service provided by the law society allows the user to search according to languages spoken by each lawyer listed. The website says above each listing that “commercial use of this information is prohibited and is subject to legal, copyright and disclaimer”.
A spokesperson from the Law Society confirmed it is obliged under the Legal Profession Act to keep a public register of lawyers.
Corporate training manager from Advantage Partnership, Alide Duselis, said the email was an accident and an honest mistake. She said the list of names in the email had not been compiled at short notice but had instead been gathered over time.
“We’ve done an executive search on potential candidates for this type of job,” Duselis said. “[My employer] said that these people have been sourced from the internet, newspapers, various industrial journals and other resources over a period of time.”
When asked whether the law society website was used, she said, “I’m not sure if all of them were sourced from there, but that could have been a possible resource that some of their names came from”.
Duselis said that after a few of the people listed on the email contacted her company, an apology was sent to each of the original recipients.
Yet not all of the lawyers contacted by the recruiter were angered by the email. One lawyer from a Sydney firm said he viewed the email as different to spam that clearly had no professional relevance.
“This one was a business thing with some legitimate content, so it didn’t particularly worry me, I have to say,” he said. “They wrote an apology email and I said back, ‘I’m not too fussed about it, feel free to keep me on the list’.”
The Sydney lawyer did not share the concern of his Melbourne counterpart that damage might have been done to his reputation or future employment chances.
“If anybody wanted to contact me I would say, ‘It was unsolicited. I’m not looking for a job’. I wasn’t particularly bothered about that,” he said.