Law Library News
May 23, 2005.
Have you recently lost or misplaced something in Gates Hall? Then stop by the Lost & Found at the Library Circulation Desk. If it’s been over two weeks, check the campus-wide Lost & Found located at the Husky Union Building Information Desk (hours and location at http://depts.washington.edu/sauf/hub/infodesk.php).
Sure, we can help you with legal research, but if you’ve ever wondered what types of questions are asked in the Reference Office, take a look at the new “Ask Us” display in the glass case by the Library entrance. Here are some past questions:
Whether you think of e-mail as one of the greatest communication tools, a giant time-waster, or something in between, e-mail is an unavoidable part of today’s work life. And as such, it is worth giving some attention to, especially in light of (1) the concern that a panel of local attorneys expressed about law students not understanding appropriate e-mail style in a professional setting and legal ramifications of e-mail in the workplace, and (2) the probability that you’ll communicate via e-mail at your summer job and leave a lasting impression of yourself. (How lasting? See below.)
Christina Cavanagh’s book Managing Your E-mail: Thinking Outside the Box (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003) (TK5105.73 C38 2003 at Classified Stacks) is packed with information about e-mail. Below are some of her findings and recommendations.
E-mail Is Vulnerable
What is an e-mail message’s shelf-life?
The shelf-life of an e-mail is potentially indefinite (even if the employer has an expunge policy and deletes e-mail records periodically) because every message that passes through the e-mail server is copied and saved on the backup.
At how many points can an e-mail message be intercepted?
If you chose d or e, you’re on the right track. When an e-mail message is sent out on the Internet, it can be intercepted by third parties while the sender’s server attempts to connect with the receiver’s server.
E-mails are surprisingly vulnerable because they live forever, the sender has no control once they are sent out, and they can be used as evidence in litigation, which takes us to the next point.
Electronic documents thought to be lost or destroyed can be recovered. For example, it is possible to recover and compare backups of documents to show that a particular document was altered or destroyed and when the activity took place. With e-mail, we’ve all heard of stories where messages were subpoenaed or dug up through discovery, and used either as evidence in litigation or to publicly embarrass the companies.
Although companies are increasingly monitoring employees’ electronic communications through software that flag suspect e-mails by searching for designated keywords, this does not mean that employers are actively reading employees’ messages – no employer has time or resources to do so. Still employers are concerned about possible liabilities and loss of productivity. (A survey by the American Management Association in 2002 showed that over 50 percent of companies review and record their employees’ e-mails and Internet usage, and 25 percent of companies have dismissed employees for abusing e-mail or the Internet while at work.)
Sending poorly composed messages with typos and grammatical errors creates a lasting impression, over time, of the sender’s competence and overall capability. How do you feel when you receive an e-mail message that is quickly followed up with a second message correcting and clarifying the initial information? Even if this were to happen only two or three times in a span of six months, you might begin to give less credence to the sender’s messages and feel that your time is not being respected or valued.
For Summer Job Tips Parts 1 and 2, see http://lib.law.washington.edu/news/2005/May9.html and http://lib.law.washington.edu/news/2005/May16.html.