From time to time I am responsible for reviewing documents produced in discovery, either by my client or another party. More often than not, the material comes to me in electronic format and includes emails and attachments to emails. It’s my job to review all of it, and in the case of my client’s documents to ensure that any non-responsive or privileged materials don’t get turned over to the other side. In the case of my opponent’s documents, I read them to see what will be helpful or hurtful to my client.

And I would like to take this opportunity now to beg you, all of you out there, who use computers at work: please, think of me every time you hit send on an email.

Why? Why should you think of some occasionally snarky lawyer you’ve never met before you send out an email?

Because someday, I may see it. What you’re emailing, I mean. Or someone like me, maybe some youngster fresh out of law school even. Someone whose innocence is still relatively unsullied. And really, we don’t want to see that racist joke about the President. Or the animated picture of the jump roping Hooters girl.

I’m specifically talking about all the politically incorrect, soft core pornographic, maybe hardcore pornographic, overtly racist, sexist, or generally icky jokes, comments, or commentary you’ve received and/or “passed along” to a select group of friends and coworkers. You probably know them well and figure they won’t rat you out to human resources (although you can never really be sure of that. Something to think about.)

I’ve had the pleasure of reading jokes about anal sex and Democrats; birther rants; some relatively creepy Communist conspiracy stuff; and a You Tube video involving a Great Dane and a midget that I will never be able to unsee, despite best efforts and maybe therapy. And keep in mind, the writers of these emails are not strangers to me. At some point I usually have to sit at a conference room table and struggle to keep a straight face while I depose them or defend them. It is awkward. For me, anyway.

So one more time, with feeling: Don’t send or receive this stuff on your computer at work. Not just because sending it might get you fired. Not just because sending it might get you sued. Refrain, please, because sending it means a lawyer may have to see it, someday. Spare us.

Spare me.

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