By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
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The credit for the clever title goes to Olivia Nuzzi, political reporter for The Daily Beast, who tweeted that quotation out following the email hack releasing nearly 20,000 of the Democratic National Committee's emails just ahead of their national convention. The result of several intrusions, which seem to bear a circumstantial connection to Russian intelligence agencies, the WikiLeaks email dump served as an embarrassment to the committee, belying their earlier claims to neutrality in the primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and prompting the swift resignation of DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on the eve of the convention.
The worst of the emails, detailed in the Washington Post, carry a few important lessons on how emails shouldn't be used. Every employment lawyer -- and a fair proportion of lawyers in other areas of litigation -- know that the candor and the presumptively private, but not really private, nature of email communications can often cause problems in litigation. People write and send email as if they are in a personal bubble, but what feels good at that moment behind the keyboard can often sound much worse months or years later when it is presented in deposition or trial. In truth, the only truly confidential emails are those between you and your attorney. And given the existence of hackers and the risk of accidental forwards and reply-alls, even those should not be considered immune from possible release. If employees took this title to heart, and emailed as if they were writing text that would someday be read aloud in a deposition, then opposing parties would have a lot less to work with. In this post, I will use the example of the DNC hack and share five good rules for litigation-safer email communications.