June 01, 2011

Ethics: The Perils of New Technology

Bruce A. Green

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You are defending a company accused of employment discrimination. The company has uncovered some very helpful new documents. It turns out that when the company fired the plaintiff, it confiscated her company-issued laptop and sent it to a computer forensic expert to recover the files. The expert recovered a lot, including emails that the plaintiff sent through her personal, web-based email account—the password protection was no obstacle. Those emails between the plaintiff and her lawyer would be useful in the course of discovery. Now that the emails are in your hands, what is your reaction? “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s emails” or “I’m gonna milk ’em for all they’re worth”?

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