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May 18, 2009 12:10 PM

Cleary Partner: "Out-of-Office" Replies Not Acceptable

Posted by Zach Lowe


The "out-of-office' reply--the final confirmation that you are going on a real, actual vacation where you will be free of work responsibilities for a brief, fleeting time. Only, one partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton thinks such automatic replies are inappropriate and send the wrong message to clients, according to this item from the Australian publication The New Lawyer

Raj Panasar, a partner in Cleary's London office, apparently sent an e-mail to London-based lawyers suggesting that they should always be available to answer e-mails or at least arrange for a colleague to answer messages when a lawyer is truly unreachable. The only time an "out-of-office" reply might be acceptable is when a lawyer is on a long flight, Panasar wrote. 

In that case, the "out-of-office" reply should indicate which time zone the lawyer is traveling to and when he or she will be able to respond to the message. At The Am Law Daily, we find that such detailed "out-of-office" messages are already typical among oft-traveling partners, but we had never heard of a near-blanket prohibition on "out-of-office" replies. 

Panasar and a firm spokeswoman did not immediately reply to messages seeking comment. 

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