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E-mail is a system whereby written correspondence can be sent via computer. Solicitors / staff should consider on a case by case basis whether email is the most appropriate form of communication with the client for the particular case.

About the email system
The email system is based on Lotus Notes and messages, once delivered, are saved in a Lotus Notes database and displayed in your inbox. To open the email database in Lotus Notes, click the icon on your Lotus Notes workspace with your name on it (eg. “John A Smith”).

The section > “Using the IT system”, later in this chapter, tells you how to access Lotus Notes.

Both external and internal e-mail is available to all staff. Internal email refers to email between staff members, while external email refers to persons, companies, or organisations outside the Board.

There are four types of email addresses you will use:-

Lotus Notes (internal) email addresses
Lotus Notes (internal) email groups
Lotus Notes email addresses for staff of the Department of Justice and Equality
Internet (external) email addresses
You can use Lotus Notes email addresses to contact all other members of the Board’s staff. Lotus Notes email addresses consist of your full name (including a middle initial) and a path. For example, John Smith’s email address might be John A Smith/Users/Legal Aid Board. To find a person’s email address, start typing their name into the “To:” field and press Enter. Lotus Notes will either complete the address for you or give you list of staff whose names start with those letters.

Email groups allow you to contact many people at once. 

Applicable to law centres only:

All law centre staff are members of two email groups, “Everyone” and “Law Centres”. These groups, which contact all staff and all law centre staff respectively, should only be used with the authorisation of your Managing Solicitor. In addition, all the staff in your law centre are members of a group entitled “Law Centre –“ [Name of Centre], so for example, all staff in Law Centre (Blanchardstown) are members of the group “Law Centre – Blanchardstown”.

Applicable to family mediation centres only:

Email groups allow you to contact many people at once.  All family mediation staff are members of two email groups, “Everyone” and “FMS – all users”. These groups, which contact all staff and all family mediation staff respectively, should only be used with the authorisation of your Managing Mediator.

You may be a member of other groups depending on your grade and whether you are a member of a committee or Work Group.

Lotus Notes email addresses may also be used to contact members of staff of the Department of Justice and Equality and some of its other agencies (principally the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, International Protection Appeals Tribunal, and Private Security Authority). These addresses (in the format Jane A Smith/JUSTICE or similar) are all available on the “Global Directory Catalog” tile on your Lotus Notes workspace and can be used in the same way as internal email addresses. It is rare that staff in law centres and family mediation centres will need to use these addresses, but if you do need to contact a DJE staff member they should be used instead of external addresses as they are more secure.

All Legal Aid Board Lotus Notes (internal) email addresses have external aliases which either take the form username@legalaidboard.ie or in some limited cases yourname@legalaidboard.ie . So John Smith’s internet email might be jasmith@legalaidboard.ie or johnsmith@legalaidboard.ie . IT Unit will assist you in obtaining your external email address.

Remember, e-mail is effectively on our headed paper! It can be traced back to the place, date and time of sending.

Procedure 2.6 – Composing a new email

  1. Click “New Message” on the toolbar in the email database.
  2. Click in the “To:” field to enter the address of the person you are sending it to.
  3. Click in the “CC:” (carbon copy) field to add persons to copy the email to.
  4. Ensure that a subject has been entered in the Subject field.
  5. Enter the text of the email in the body field and proof read prior to sending.
  6. Lotus Notes now automatically spell checks emails and underlines misspellings.  To correct a misspelling, right click the misspelt word and choose the correct word. When ready click “Send” on the email database toolbar.

Once the "send" button is clicked, e-mail cannot be stopped

If the email relates to an applicant/client you should now upload the email to EOS:

  1. Click the “Sent” view in the Lotus Notes email database.
  2. Locate the email you just sent and double click it to open it.
  3. Click the “Upload to EOS” button
  4. In the dialog box that appears, enter the applicant’s name or file number. Note: If an applicant/client has multiple cases, it is important to upload the correspondence to the correct case.
  5. Enter in a name for the document and choose the correct correspondence type. Note: It is important to give the document a full descriptive name. The name you enter will be the name it is given in the table of contents of a brief to Counsel.
  6. Click the Upload button to upload the email to EOS.

Drafting the email

  • Always use plain English and be clear about your message  
  • Be as formal and professional as you would be in any other form of correspondence
  • Be polite and respectful towards the person you are sending it to.
  • Know what your message is and make sure the person receiving it would too
  • Make sure you are sending it to the appropriate person
  • If you expect an acknowledgement or reply within a certain time, make that clear
  • Remember that tone is harder to express in an email. If the tone of your email is sending the wrong message, it may be better to make a phone call instead
  • Sarcasm and/or emotion should be left out of emails. As well as being unprofessional, it may be hard for the reader to detect.
  • Follow up with a phone call if necessary.

Before you click send:

  • Re-read the email
  • Make sure you are satisfied with its content and that it is conveying the correct message.
  • If the email needs to be approved prior to sending make sure you have that approval.
  • Double check the address of the intended recipient.

You may be required to copy your email to your line manager or other staff and if so you should insert their email addresses in the “CC:” (carbon copy) field. The “BCC:” (blind carbon copy) field acts the same as the “CC:” field, but only the person to who the message has been blind copied to knows that they have received the message. For this reason we recommend that you only use this field where necessary.

Emails to clients or applicants may only be sent to one client / applicant at a time. That is to say, the same email should not be sent to multiple clients or applicants or copied to multiple clients or applicants.

In the case where a staff member needs to send the same email to different clients / applicants  the “Copy into New” feature in Lotus Notes may be used to generate a new copy of the email and the recipient’s email address entered in the “To” field and any greeting adjusted accordingly. In an email, click More à Copy Into New à Message.

In the case where communication to or from head office about the same issue relates to a number of clients / applicants, the e-mail must only contain reference to one applicant or client as the copy e-mail to be placed on the file must only refer to one individual.

EOS logoDocuments created on EOS should be emailed to clients using EOS. To email a document to a client, check the box beside the document’s name, then click the “Send Email” link. Note that there is no spell check in EOS, so you should read carefully the text of any email you send using EOS prior to sending.

The Board has obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) and the Data Protection Act 2018 to keep personal and confidential data secure. The Department of Finance Data Protection guidelines advises that staff should ensure that all email containing personal, private, sensitive or confidential data should be encrypted when being sent outside the organisation.

To send an encrypted email simply type ‘Secure:’ at the start of your subject line and send as usual. Documents sent using EOS will automatically have this text in the Subject field. As soon as the encrypted email has been opened on the recipient’s PC an email will be sent to the sender to confirm the email has been accessed and displayed.

Staff should ensure that email containing personal (i.e. all correspondence with or relating to a client), private, sensitive or confidential data should be encrypted when being sent outside the organisation.  Recipients should be encouraged to respond using the secure system.

Further information on client confidentiality can be found in è Chapter 7.

Where a staff member has sent an email securely, the person to whom they have sent the email has the option of replying securely. 

In order to read securely sent emails, you must first register your Legal Aid Board external (username@legalaidboard.ie) address with Cisco Systems’ secure email facility. This must be done the first time you are sent a secure email.

Procedure 2.7 – Reading a secure email

  1. Open the secure email.
  2. Save the securedoc.html attachment to your desktop
  3. Open the securedoc.html file in Internet Explorer
  4. If this is your first time using the secure email facility, you will be unable to connect to the server. When prompted, click “Help”, and you will be taken to the registration page. Ensure the email address you enter is in the format username@legalaidboard.ie (not User X Name/Users/Legal Aid Board)
    Enter your password and click “Open” to download the email.

Fuller instructions, including screenshots, can be found on iLAB.

You should end all emails leaving the law centre/family mediation centre/section with a signature along the following lines:

A.N. Other Name of staff member
Clerical Officer Position (optional if you work in Head Office)
Law centre (Gardiner Street) Law Centre /  Mediation office / Section
Legal Aid Board Include if you work in Head Office, otherwise optional
45 Lower Gardiner Street Address
Dublin D01 P523 Include Eircode at end of last line of address
DX 112 002 TALBOT STREET DX exchange (omit if office has no DX service
Tel: 01 - 8745440 Telephone Number
Fax: 01 - 8746896 Fax number
Email: another@legalaidboard.ie Email

Do not include any other information in your signature. You should ensure that if the name of your section or office changes, that it is kept up to date. For example, we no longer use the title “Refugee Legal Service” and this should be omitted in favour of the law centre name (e.g. “Law Centre (Smithfield”).

How to set up your signature

1. In Lotus Notes, open the email application, and then choose Actions -->  More ---> Preferences…, then click the Signature tab to add your signature in.

Setting up signature screengrab

2. Choose "Rich Text" as the type of signature you want.
3. Enter the signature in the Rich Text field.
4. Highlight the signature you have entered, then click the “T” symbol. Choose “Color” from the menu and then Blue 
5. Click "ok" to save

This means that you will not have to type in your signature, each time you send an email. You don’t have to include a signature on emails which are being sent to other staff in your own office. Include it on emails to staff of the Board outside of your office.

Emails sent using EOS do not, by default, include this signature. Copy and paste your signature into the Message field of any email sent using EOS.

Special symbols for phone, fax, and email

If you wish, you can use special symbols ' 7 * instead of Tel., Fax, and Email. This is optional.

To use the special symbols you will need to copy and paste them into your signature.

You can copy them from this Handbook.

You will be unable to use the special characters and the blue colour in emails sent using EOS. Type “Tel”, “Fax, and “Email” into the blank spaces that will be left in your signature.

The special symbols are part of the Wingdings and Wingdings 2 fonts.

': Select Wingdings 2 font and type “,” (comma)

7: Select Wingdings 2 font and type “7”

*: Select Wingdings font and type “*” (astrix/star) using the numeric keypad.

You can attach documents, pictures, and other material to your email. There are two ways to do this:-

  • Drag (click the file, then keep the left mouse button depressed) a file from a Windows Explorer window into the email. If Lotus Notes is not visible, you may need to drag the file over the Lotus Notes button on the Windows taskbar to make it appear.
  • In Lotus Notes, choose  File > Attach… . In the dialog box that appears, navigate to the file and click Attach.

The Board automatically scans all email for viruses, so it is not necessary to do this. However, you should nonetheless absolutely refrain from including any programs (files ending in .EXE, .COM, or .BAT) or VBScript files (.VBS) in your attachments.

The Board employs a program which scans all outgoing and incoming email for potentially hazardous material. Often this may block legitimate incoming or outgoing email. If an email is blocked by this system, an automatically generated email will appear in your inbox and the sender/recipient will be notified also. If the email is legitimate, you can apply to IT Unit to have it released.

Procedure 2.8 – Asking IT Unit to release a blocked email

  1. Double click the automatically generated email to open it.
  2. Click Forward à Forward on the toolbar.
  3. Enter “IT Cahirciveen” as the address to send the email to.
  4. Enter a short message politely asking IT Unit to release the message, stating that it is business-related.
  5. Click Send on the toolbar.

In your use of the Board’s email system you should remember at all times to adhere to the Board’s Computer Usage Policy which is detailed later in this Chapter, and an up-to-date version of which can be found on the LAB Bulletin Board.

Emails are generally stored in your inbox. All emails over 6 months are automatically moved to an archive database. This can be accessed for the first time by clicking Tools à Archive à Mail Archive in the folder list in your main mail database. After that, it can be accessed by clicking the Archive tile (labelled “Jane A Jones (Archive)” or similar) in your Lotus Notes Workspace.

Note that due to constraints on server space, IT Unit has allocated only a certain amount of space to each staff member’s email database (this includes Inbox, Outbox, Sent, Drafts, and any Folders). While the archiving process will stop the quota being reached in normal circumstances, it can still be reached in certain circumstances (for example, if you are sent a large volume of large attachments). You will be warned automatically by Lotus Notes if you are running out of space (known as reaching your disk quota).

If you are running out of space, you must delete items from your inbox. Once you run out of space, you will not be able to save drafts or receive emails and outgoing emails will not be saved in your Sent folder. Staff with smartphones will not be able to use the email function on their phone if their mailbox is full.

All emails relating to an applicant or client should be printed and placed on the physical client file. To print an email, choose File à Print and then click the Print button. The email may then be deleted from your inbox by pressing the “Del” key on your keyboard. (It is not however permanently deleted until you empty your Trash folder – to do so click on the Trash folder and click “Empty Trash” on the toolbar.) Likewise any other emails relating to any other topic on which a physical file exists should be printed and placed on the relevant file, and deleted from your Inbox.

You must not keep any client related emails in your Lotus Notes inbox
They must be printed and uploaded to the relevant EOS file and then deleted

In certain circumstances, you may want to keep an electronic copy of your email outside of the Lotus Notes environment. Lotus Notes can save email in either plain text (ASCII) format or Rich Text Format, a format which preserves formatting such as bold and italics and which is compatible with Microsoft Word. To save an email, choose File à Export. In the combo box “File type” choose either .TXT (plain text) or .RTF (rich text format). Navigate to the client’s folder on your common drive, then give the file a name e.g. “Email to opposing solicitor 10.3.09.txt” and click Export. Note: Unlike many other software packages, Lotus Notes does not automatically add the file type extension to the file. Therefore, in order for Windows Explorer to recognise the file as a text document, you must give the file a name ending in .txt . Likewise if you are saving the email in Rich Text Format, you must add the extension .rtf yourself. You can then delete the original email from Lotus Notes.

The system can be set to automatically reply to emails sent to you when you are out of the office. You must enable this setting when leaving the office for any period of one working day or more.

Procedure 2.9 – Setting up Out of Office Auto Reply

  1. Ensure you have the Lotus Notes email database open.
  2. Choose Actions > More > Out of Office…
  3. Click the widget beside “Returning: Tomorrow” and choose the date you will be back in the office.
  4. In the “Additional Body Text” text box,  type the message you wish to send to people that email you while you are out of the office (see below template).
  5. Click “Enable and Close”.

Note: As of Lotus Notes R8.5 there is no longer any need to deactivate your Out of Office AutoReply when returning to the office.

Your Out of Office Message should read along the following lines, but may be customised as appropriate:

I am out of the office [for reason] from _________________ to _________________.

Please refer your enquiries to _________________ who may be contacted at [phone number] or emailed at ____________@legalaidboard.ie .

Alternatively Legal Aid Board staff may contact the entire office at the email address - _________________.