The First Quarter of 2016 has been a busy time for the attorneys and staff at Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel, P.A.! The firm is very interested in giving back to the community and supporting local charities and events. In January 2016 the firm participated in the Miami Design Preservation League’s annual Art Deco Weekend in South Beach, Miami. This organization is devoted to preserving, protecting, and promoting the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District, one of the largest Art Deco locations in the world. The firm is proud to be a part of preserving this historic district and architectural heritage of South Florida.
In March 2016 the attorneys attended The Victory Center’s annual fundraiser. The Victory Center is a non-profit organization that provides children with autism and other disorders with comprehensive individualized education. One of the co-founders of The Victory Center is Judge Judith Nelson, a former Florida Judge of Compensation Claims (workers’ compensation), and a good friend of the firm. David C. Barnett, Esq. is chairman of The Victory Center’s Board of Directors, and the firm is proud to sponsor this event every year.
Also in March 2016 the attorneys attended the Annual Longshore Conference sponsored by the Loyola University School of Law and the U.S. Department of Labor in New Orleans, Louisiana. This conference spans several days, and allows attorneys, adjusters, employers, and judges to gather in an informal setting and learn about the current state of the LHWCA and DBA. Many issues faced on a daily basis by our clients were discussed, and several of the cases reviewed in this Newsletter were covered during the case law update. David C. Barnett, Esq. is chairman of the Annual Longshore Conference.
The firm is also a proud supporter of the U.S. military, and has received the ESGR’s Patriot Award by the U.S. Department of Defense. The firm’s continuing support has allowed its employees in the reserves and National Guard to serve the country knowing the firm is here to encourage and assist them.
By Samuel Frankel, Esq.
People today have quickly adapted to technological advances that were not even believable 20 years ago. These advances, particularly in electronic mail (email) have allowed us to shorten our communication style, deliver information to more people quickly, and reply just as quickly.
Emails are certainly a modern convenience most of us cannot live without. With the advent of electronic communications, some of the older rules of writing etiquette need to be updated. Here are some pointers everyone can use:
- There is no such thing as “private” email. Consider ALL emails as potentially public – even emails between you and your attorney! In the age of computer and email account hacking, including the hacking of email providers, large corporations, financial institutions, and even government agencies, anything sent by email has the potential of being exposed to the public. Be sensitive to confidential information – yours or someone else’s – being placed in an email.
- Remember to use the “Subject” line, and include your name at the end of the email. Sometimes we cannot recognize the sender of an email by their email address. Using the “Subject” line also helps the email recipient prioritize emails for review.
- Control your emotions in emails. Again, emails LAST FOREVER, and can be used against you. Do not rush off a quick response when you are angry – wait a day or two before responding to an email that upsets you.
- Pay attention to your spelling and grammar. DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS or in all lower case REMEMBER TO USE PUNCTUATION SO SOMEONE KNOWS WHEN ONE SENTENCE ENDS AND ANOTHER BEGINS AND BE CAREFUL WITH EXCLAMATION AND QUESTION MARKS!?!?!?!?! Even though electronic, an email is still a letter, and it is very hard to read an email written like that and figure out what exactly is needed.
- Responses to emails: please do not expect an instant response. Our firm processes emails just like regular post mail and faxes – emails are briefly reviewed to see who is sending them, the intended recipient, and the basic subject matter, then processed into our case management software, and digitally saved in the appropriate client file. Once this is done, the recipient receives a notice from the case management software that an email has been logged in. This process can take a while, but it ensures ALL correspondence, in any format, is received, processed, and saved in the right file. Of course we understand that it may take a few days for our clients to respond to our emails as well!
- Each person in our firm (and even the firm itself) has a business email address. In the event of an emergency, note the emergency in the “Subject” line, or mark your email as “Urgent” in your email program before sending it. This will ensure a quicker response; we will also do the same thing if we need a quick response from you. Everyone in the firm monitors their emails throughout the workday, and if an emergency comes in, we can see it and respond appropriately.
- Do not use jargon, slang, emoticons (“smiley faces” or “texting” format), or unexplained acronyms or abbreviations. Remember – emails are treated like every other form of correspondence, subject to possible public scrutiny, and may be introduced in a legal proceeding as evidence.
- Keep it neat and clean. This is not just foul language (which is always unacceptable in any form of communication), but also the format of the email. No one likes an email that has excessive “forwards”, threads, or irrelevant information.
- Keep your subject line clear, concise, and to the point. It should be simple, descriptive, and as clearly proofread as the rest of your email. This is because emails with Subject lines that are misspelled, use ALL CAPS or all lower case, or use hyperlinks typically get flagged as spam and deleted.
- Keep your attachments to two or less, and no large attachments. Many companies have email software programs that automatically block multiple or large email attachments. Just like the email itself, all attachments have to be reviewed and processed into our document processing software, and saved in the appropriate file. If you are sending large or multiple files, give a warning in your email. We will work with you to ensure you can get us all of your documents, even if it is by regular post mail.
- Only “Copy” people who absolutely need to know. Attorney/client privilege is a privilege asserted by the client, not the attorney. Anyone you copy on any correspondence, including email, breaks the privilege. The attorney/client privilege applies to the firm and the client, not just the individual attorney. So if you need to copy one of our staff members on an email, feel free to do so.
- Beware the “BCC” (Blind Carbon Copy). You never know if an email you received was sent to other “BCC” recipients. If you “Reply All”, you are also copying them on your response. Never hit “Reply All” unless you want every single person copied and blind copied to see your response!
These are just a few ideas to help protect you, your information, and your communications. The law is constantly evolving to keep up with technology, and there are instances where Courts have ordered email and internet providers, like Comcast, AOL or Google, to produce copies of emails saved on their servers. Documents and correspondence in digital format, like PDF scans, emails, text messages, pictures, etc., are subject to the same discovery requirements as paper documents.
Most alarmingly, hackers have been able to access servers and data storage even from the most secure sites and locations. Hackers have been able to break into military grade encrypted servers, so the first line of protection is with you. Be careful what you email, who you email, and what you are attaching. If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other issue, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys.