Friday, April 22, 2005

How technology keeps lawyers' jobs secure

I read this post and the related comments in Slashdot and realized that my job as a civil litigator will be safe for years to come:
Posted by Zonk on Friday April 22, @06:35PM
from the saving-for-a-rainy-day dept.
jira writes "BBC has an article confirming the trend of using inbox as a sort of personal database. At my workplace I can personally attest to the growing sizes of those pst files and an unwillingness to erase any emails because of 'loss of information'." From the article: "The trend has become more pronounced as the services have dramatically increased their storage capacity in response to upstart Gmail offering a free service with 1,000 megabytes (Mb) of storage."
Very few of the commenters so far have seen any down side to keeping years worth of e-mails at work or at home other than the "clutter" it causes. I love it. People just don't realize that when lawsuits are filed, all of the e-mails they keep are not only discoverable, they are easily searchable.

People will say things in e-mails they would never say on the telephone or in person. How many people have received off-color jokes from friends who would never repeat the same jokes in person? And that joke e-mail someone sent you three years ago about the woman down the hall... it's not gone until every one of the recipients and the sender deletes it. If any one of those folks is a pack rat, that e-mail lives on and will expose the company (and maybe even the employee) to liability when that woman files her discrimination suit and subpoenas e-mails and PST files from the company's computer system.

Comments like these provide a window into the minds of employees: "Yep. I do desktop support and nobody wants to delete anything. that's their paper trail and the one email they delete may mean their job down the line as people are looking for somebody to blame and heads to chop." These folks are looking out for themselves, and they don't particularly care that they are keeping scads of potentially incriminating e-mails along with a few valuable ones. Companies that don't enforce reasonable e-mail destruction policies are just sitting ducks.

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