Fresh off a fabulous performance on Blawg Review #38, which was based on his terrific presentation at BlawgThink, Evan Schaeffer takes just the right tone in covering the recent story of the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors wanting to ban the practice of looking at metadata in electronic documents.
The board voted unanimously for a motion stating that lawyers should not look at metadata and also referred to the Professional Ethics Committee of the Florida Bar the question of “whether it is unethical for a lawyer to mine metadata from an electronic document he or she receives from another party.”
I’m baffled by this approach, which I’ve heard or seen a number of lawyers and bar regulators make. Imagine, for example, being a client and learning that your lawyer could not look at the metadata in a document that you knew had been copied from you or stolen from you.
I’m also personally disappointed that regulators want to ban one of the areas that I have developed some knowledge and expertise about. I’d prefer that they ban an area I know nothing about.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think metadata is all that difficult to figure out and I can’t imagine why looking at this readily-available evidence would be “unethical.” For a good article that includes some of my approach to metadata, see “Mining the Value from Metadata,” a recent column from Tom Mighell, Evan Schaeffer and me.
Back to the original question: My answer is comes from John McEnroe: “You cannot be serious!
It’s probably a better idea to learn how to deal with metadata rather than rely on some kind of “gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail” argument to get some kind of regulatory protection.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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