Recent history shows that FINRA is going after brokers who alter client’s records.  This, unfortunately, reminded me of my own bad experience as a young lawyer when defending a broker.

That broker had great “contemporaneous” notes of his communications with the client that made the case very defendable.  My opponent questioned the authenticity of these notes, which I scoffed at.  I raised the accusation with my client, who only then (late in the case) admitted that he created the notes after he was sued. confusion.jpg

Needless to say, that case did not end well for the defense.  What does this have to do with email?  And, what does the “e” in email mean?

The easy answer to this question is “electronic”, but that would be wrong.  The “e” in email actually means any one of the following: Eternal, Everlasting, Error-prone and, my all-time favorite, Exhibit, as in trial exhibit.

When I teach brokers risk avoidance techniques, I often get a big, “aha” when I drop this punch line.  Most people do not appreciate the risks associated with electronic communication.

Like the evil zombie in a horror movie, it never goes away.  Delete it as many times as you want and it will still come back.

So how can you avoid being a victim of the zombie?  There is a pretty easy rule of thumb with emails and other forms of electronic communication.

After you write the email, read it, and read it again.  If, after you have read that email, you would be okay seeing that email enlarged ten thousand times at a trial where you are defending yourself, then hit send.  If the answer is not an unqualified yes, do not send, but delete . . . fast.

This may seem so obvious, but it is often overlooked in our fast paced world.  Take your time.  Think before you hit send.  It may save your career.

*photo from