Keeping client email communications private
Nearly every single one of us has received an email by mistake. Perhaps we have a similar name to a coworker, or one of our friends sent us something they meant to send to someone else. Most the time, we simply delete the email and remind ourselves to be careful in the future to ensure that we do not also do the same thing.
When an attorney-client email falls into the wrong hands, it could have a devastating impact on a client’s case. As lawyers and clients continue to adapt to constantly changing technology, they both need to take steps to ensure that they communications remain private.
Matters discussed between attorneys and clients are often covered by the attorney-client privilege. This means that the attorney cannot be forced to reveal any of the information that the parties discussed face-to-face or over email, with certain exceptions. Clients can freely talk or email about the things that are important to them in the case, and attorneys will not have to disclose this information to the other side, or to the judge.
It is extremely important for clients to pay attention not only to what information they are sending, but also the location of the computer they are using to send an email to their attorneys. If they use a computer in a library or other public place, it is possible that the information sent could potentially be seen by others who use the same computer. Also, employers often have control over access to emails sent using company resources, and may be able to examine any emails sent using its systems.
For clients going through a divorce or other family law matter, this is an especially important concern. In many situations, the parties may still be living together while going through the process. If the soon-to-be ex-spouses share a computer or email account, anything that is sent or received could be examined by the other side.
If relying on email or text messages to communicate with an attorney, it is important that both sides take steps to keep these conversations remain private. The attorney and client should discuss these concerns at the time of hiring, to ensure that both sides understand the issues that may arise.
In family law cases, these emails will often include highly personal information that could be exploited by the other side. Attorneys often need this information to help develop a strategy to help their clients achieve their goals. If the other spouse learned of these plans, he or she could make the divorce much more difficult to resolve.
If you are considering a divorce or have other family law concerns, speak to an experienced attorney about your case. Working with someone you trust can help you ensure that your privileged information remains confidential, allowing you to focus on making the right decisions for your future.