Friday 13 February 2015

Email address discrimination

Although I have worked with large law firms and organisations since 1994, I have been a sole trader since that time. Like many sole traders, I do my best to maximise my income by using my hours productively (eg working, rather than chasing unpaid invoices and trying to complete income tax forms unaided) and by minimising my outgoings.  This being so, I decided at an early stage to use an off-the-peg email address bore the name of my original internet service provider.  Though I have passed through the hands of several different ISPs since then, my email address has remained constant. There can't be so many of us now with email addresses ending in "", so it's even becoming quite distinctive.

I recently spotted an invitation to sign up for a free webinar on an intellectual property topic of some interest to me. However, there was a little message at the bottom of the promotional material to the effect that the organisers only accepted registrations undertaken with professional email addresses (i.e. no registrations from people using Yahoo, Gmail and similar private accounts).

I would have guessed that there are quite a few sole and small practitioners in the field of intellectual property who, like me, are using web-based email services and may would be wondering whether this is an unreasonable ground of discrimination. Comments, anyone?


  1. When I started my own practice, I used a BTInternet account for a time (1990s). Nowadays, I would probably think less of a solicitor or patent attorney who used such an account - rightly or wrongly I would think they were playing at professional practice and probably not very good if they couldn't afford the £50 per annum for a personalised address. I wouldn't have the same view of an academic, trainer or writer.

    Discrimination? Perhaps. Weighed against this I would consider the huge volume of spam from people who don't give out personal information and seem to hide behind one of these addresses. You may find you are being lumped in with them.

  2. Totally discriminatory. However the real reason for not using a gmail account for client work is lack of confidentiality

  3. Once registered you can import the event into your Google or Yahoo calendar!

  4. Barbara - I think gmail is confidential. Google does not search gmails.
    I use as my email address, and my colleagues, Dr Spungin and Aharon Factor are also The emails are routed through gmail which means I can check emails at work, at home, via the so-called smart phone, and from any computer with Internet access and see the same interface and have fully searchable emails and virtually unlimited storage. Due to the enormous amount of material including attachments, I now spend a little for additional storage in the cloud.
    It is also easy to save appointments in Google calendar and to configure reminders which I may start using for docketing as well.
    When new clients give me gmail email addresses I wonder if I'll be able to collect from them. It gives a feeling of fly by night.
    Jeremy, I am sure that you will be able to register for any IP event, web or physical if they can see who you are.
    The point is, Jeremy, you have a massive web-presence, and don't need plush offices. You can, for a very small sum have a posh email address and this is a valuable investment. Its a little like investing in a website.