Becoming Our Best

The E-Mail Legal Pitfall

Recently I was speaking with Walt, a young attorney who does legal research for his firm. As we talked about his work, the subject of e-mails as a rich source of extremely damaging lawsuit information came to light.

Imagine this scenario: A father is very involved in fighting a lawsuit instigated by someone bent on destroying him and/or his business. Ordinarily his personal e-mails are off-limits as evidence in this kind of legal action. However, if the father sends a personal e-mail to one of his grown children discussing the lawsuit, the door is now open to bring all the father’s personal e-mails into the case as possible sources of evidence against him and his business.

Scary! A few carelessly written e-mails may be just what the opponents need to win their case against the father. This is one more pointed reminder about taking care in writing and then editing e-mails. Some strategies you and your team can use are:

• Remember when writing your e-mail that it may someday be used by someone bent on your destruction.

• Use accepted standards of sentence structure and spelling so that you look as intelligent as you are. 

• Re-read what you have written from the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t understand very well, or wants to use the information against you. Then re-write for complete clarity.

If involved in a lawsuit, don’t discuss it via e-mail with anyone other than your attorney, or another authorized person.

E-mails never die. They are always available to someone else who is determined to find and use them.

Everything discussed here also pertains to Text Messages, Tweets and any other electronic medium of communication.

The most secure discussion about a sensitive legal matter is an in-person conversation. Usually a telephone call is also safe. But e-mail is another matter. Remind team members and yourself to use with caution.

Author: Bruce Johnsen Management Consultant:
824 Munras Ave Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940

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