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Reach Out and Touch Someone

Posted 09/26/16 1:14 PM by Ron Couden

Remember the AT&T commercial with the slogan “Reach out and touch someone, reach out and just say hi?” That commercial came out in the early 1980’s in an effort to promote long distance phone calls.  If I worked for AT&T, I would have them bring back that campaign. 

With careless regard, irrational anger encourages people to send harsh emails, vulgar text messages, and offensive social media posts.  These messages are sent out of haste, and usually the sender regrets the message once they have calmed down.  Unfortunately, the message was sent, and it’s still out there.  Every so often, that message resurfaces as a trial exhibit in a court room. 

We are currently engulfed in a pretty intense election season.  Now more than ever our social media feeds are filled with political banter.   These posts or memes can be quite offensive, and are usually aimed at the opposing party.  It goes without saying that these posts need to stay out of the workplace, but once you post your political beliefs publicly you may very well offend the folks you work with.  Once again, these posts could very well end up as a trial exhibit in the courtroom.

In a world that seems to be governed more and more by hard data, ESI vendors are constantly evolving into forensic collection specialists, and they are on the search to find the fastest and easiest way for collecting that data.  Technology is improving, and catching up with each smart phone upgrade.  The iPhone 7 was recently launched; don’t be surprised if companies like Cellebrite develop a mobile forensic software designated for the iPhone 7 within six months.

The same goes for social media, X1 Social Discovery is developing real-time collection tools that will capture data as it is posted.  As data collection techniques and software continue to enhance, our common sense needs to coincide with these developments.

So here is my advice for out-thinking these data collection vendors.

  • Never send emotionally enraged emails (work or personal). Take a few moments to catch your breath, walk around the block, or grab a cup of coffee.  Once you come to a rational state of mind, speak to that individual in person or simply pick up the phone.
  • Keep your political opinions to yourself; you have no idea who you might offend.  By all means, do not voice your political preference and opinions on social media.

For twenty years now, I have watched eDiscovery evolve into a second language for law firms and general counsel.  Your legal conscience should always be aware of the ramifications of every email sent.  As eDiscovery and collection services evolve, they become more regulatory (and more affordable) for attorneys.  So instead of finding yourself in legal hot water by sending an email or text that could be misconstrued, why not take AT&T’s advice, and just “reach out and touch someone.”

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Ron Couden

About The Author

Ron Couden is a Senior Solutions Consultant in Inventus Seattle office. For 22 years, Ron has been consulting the Seattle legal market on best practices for managing electronic data. He has fully engulfed the Inventus platform of leveraging technology to mitigate risk, and drive down discovery costs.


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