Sunday, May 10, 2009

Watch what you say in e-mail!

Shall I remind us again to watch our words in e-mail messages? Oh yeh!

A few weeks ago I had a phone call from a local law firm I had never heard of. Their representative lawyer told me in the nicest terms that I'd be receiving a subpoena, how else, by e-mail. True as promised, a few days later, I received the subpoena. (I'm still not sure it was binding but I'm not asking.)

Anyway, the lawyer had told me the subpoena would ask for any records I had when I was doing some contract consulting work for a local fund development firm. I hadn't worked for the firm for several years; and, when I did, I had worked almost exclusively in fund development.

Well, I didn't remember, but I had also agreed to facilitate a strategic planning session between two firms that were now suing each other. The law firm knew this because they had "discovered" an e-mail I had written about the session.

Immediately I began to worry about what I might have said. I like to think I have as good a sense of humor as the next guy and use that sense of humor after getting to know people. So, I wondered what I might have said in that e-mail. Had I signed my name, "Joe Bagadonuts," as a joke, as I sometimes do? Had I used any profanity? Any ethnic references? God, I hoped not.

I spent a few restless nights wondering how many e-mails the law firm had and what I might have said in them. I saw my name and words in the headlines. It was chilling! Well, I guess I didn't compromise myself too badly because I haven't heard another thing about the subpoena. But, when I was reading Fortune magazine on-line today, I came across an article by one of my favorite Fortune writers, Anne Fisher, that I recommend you read. Follow this link and find another good reason you should always watch what you say in e-mail!

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