July 28, 2005
Interview with Eric Rosenberg, LitgationProofing, LLC
Business Talk This Morning
» Listen to the Interview
David Weiss: Also ahead, coming up in about 15 minutes, we'll hear from Eric Rosenberg, former senior litigation manager at Merrill Lynch, and founder of a company called LitigationProofing. He talks to us about the seven deadly sins of business e-mail. This is an important topic for us all. I mean, how many of us somehow sit at our PC at work and assume that there's some kind of privacy?
Amanda Clarke: No...
DW: That what you send to a coworker, even if you're forwarding some kind of joke, or if you make some kind of strange comment in an e-mail, that nobody is going to see that. We have seen it in the past that it ends up on the front page of papers!
AC: Exactly. You know, you can't be that naive.
DW: And you can't be too careful when it comes to e-mail. The seven deadly sins of business e-mail, this half-hour on Business Talk This Morning.
DW: Ah, when it comes to business e-mail though you can't be too careful. Some deadly sins of business e-mail. We talk this morning with Eric Rosenberg, former senior litigation manager at Merrill Lynch, he now has a company called LitigationProofing, LLC. Eric, welcome to Business Talk This Morning.
Eric Rosenberg: Good morning, Dave.
DW: Thank you so much for joining up this morning and you've come up with something called The Seven Deadly Sins of Business Email, which we are hoping to read cover to cover. Give us a thumbnail sketch and first of all, in the 21st century, why do so many people make so many mistakes when it comes to business email?
ER: I think that people don't appreciate that when they put their fingers on the keyboard they are doing something that is permanent. You know, when I talk to people in groups about this, I use a Native American drum and explain why that's a better method of communication often because it doesn't leave a trace.
DW: That's right.
ER: The e-mails are recoverable in litigation often from places you would never believe. They're usable and they're "surveilleable." That is, companies can find them and search them.
DW: I guess in this day and age, we still, somehow think that pressing the "delete" button will absolve us of guilt. That is not true at all.
ER: Absolutely not true. First of all, once you've sent it, it's gone places you can't control. Second, it's often findable in the hard drives or other devices that you've used, at least temporarily to save it. And the internet service provider also has a copy, and the servers that your company use have copies.
DW: Alright. Let's talk about some of these Seven Deadly Sins, if not all of them. First of all, something we should possibly already know about, but so many still make the mistake of using company email for personal use.
ER: That's right. I think that when people do that it encourages a sloppiness of their content. Generally, you know, I ask my audiences anonymously with remote devices questions about their use and find, for example, that 20% say that they in fact have used their company system to communicate with an old boyfriend or girlfriend that they didn't want to do that communication at home, for obvious reasons. And the fellow who was the former Boeing CEO who used it was found to use it with another employee...that's someone who wished he probably hadn't done that.
DW: Absolutely. He lost his job because of it. Eric Rosenberg joining us, in from LitigationProofing, LLC, and a former senior litigation manager at Merrill Lynch, talking about the perils of email, using it at business for any other uses. Now, not knowing about copyright laws. Failing to heed these laws. That can lead to a lot of difficulty.
ER: Yes. You know, you can't simply pick up and use material that you're getting from another publication and spread it around within you firm. There are ways that your company can obtain rights to do that and company librarians, if you're in a company of size would have the information on that.
DW: We talked about deleting emails...never truly deleted, so let's move on to something else. Not considering how your email would look in the newspapers. So many end up on the front page, right?
ER: They do and it's amazing how people will write things that they just...don't have a concept of how it looks to their mother, to the newspapers. You know, probably one of the more famous ones came out of the Spitzer investigation of a brokerage firm where the analyst wrote, "This stock is a powder keg, given how aggressive we were on it earlier this year, and given the 'bad smell' comment that so many institutions are bringing up."
DW: There is something about the word "personal" with personal computer that we don't think it's going to go anywhere else, and it often does. It always does!
ER: Yes. Yes, indeed. And it's easy to find.
DW: Alright. A couple of others quickly...exaggerating, joking, carrying on a debate. Spreading rumors. All these things, if you do it on the PC, it's going to end up elsewhere.
ER: Yes. Businesspeople particularly when in a difficult situation sometimes do what we all do in life which is to joke about difficult situations. We call it "gallows humor." And it can be particularly troublesome. It was in the Fen-Fen case, there was an employee of one of the pharmaceutical companies who wrote, "Do I have to look forward to spending my waning years writing checks to fat people worried about a silly lung problem?"
ER: That's the kind of behavior you don't want to see on a company email system. And your company can be large or small and have the same problem.
DW: Others you mentioned: failing to double check "reply" and the list, who you are sending emails to. That could sometimes reach up and bite you. And also ignoring incoming emails that would require some corrective action. For more information on all of this, what is your web site, Eric?
ER: It's www.litigationproofing.com. That's one word, like waterproofing.
DW: Boy, great information about using you email in business and the perils. The Seven Deadly Sins of Business Email. Eric Rosenberg, LitigationProofing. Thank you so much for joining us on Business Talk This Morning.
ER: Thank you, Dave.