LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT E-MAIL
EMAIL - LIGHTEN THE LOAD OF LETTER CARRIERS
Years ago there was "the Mailman", and then there was the "Pony Express", ships, trains, telegraph, radio, teletype, airplanes, and now we have E-Mail that timely delivers your mail.
E-Mail! What is in all about? Its free! All you have to pay is the monthly fee to your ISP (your Internet Service Provider).
Why is everyone talking about E-Mail? Why does the newspaper U.S.A. Today feature an article about computers in virtually every addition of their newspaper?
It was only a few years ago that most of us installed fax machines in our offices. Only recently did I see lawyers exchanging their professional cards with fax numbers engraved thereon.
Today, I am beginning to see web sites and E-Mail addresses engraved on attorney's professional business cards.
Let me tell you about why I am so sold on E-Mail. Recently, I was involved in a case involving the Federal Trade Commission. The case emanated from the Cleveland, Ohio office of the Federal Trade Commission. Attorneys in the case were located in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and the undersigned in St. Louis, Missouri. The events of the case, at certain times, were moving very rapidly. Yet, faxes could "carry the mail", but among co-counsel, often the documents faxed have to be edited and amended, sometimes substantially, and that takes time to do with faxed materials.
In "the old days" you would hand a document received by mail, or Fax to your secretary and you would have the secretary make the necessary revisions to the document. This revision process would span quite a lengthy period of time. In more recent years, we would try to scan a document for Optical Character Recognition, and then preform the editing. We would try most anything to keep from retyping the entire document. Sometimes we would resort to just making changes by interlineation. The advantage to E-Mail is that the actual "File" is transmitted between the sender and the recipient. In this manner, the parties may edit the document which is the subject of the E-Mail without the necessity of extensive re- typing.
Some persons have attempted to "Scan" faxed documents and then have the documents be made subjects of "OCR", i.e. optical character recognition. It is my opinion, however, that given the state of scanning software, and "affordable" law office equipment, OCR, when used on faxed images, presents less than desirable results.
Many professionals wonder about the security and the ethical considerations of E-Mail. I do not have a resolution for this concern, but I am confident that progress will continue and E-Mail will prevail. Let's talk about security for a moment as it relates to E-Mail.
At the present time I am using a program called "Pretty Good Privacy". This inexpensive program encrypts the text that is E-Mailed from sender to recipient.
This is how it works, in simplified language. A "Key-Pair" is required for the senders and recipients to encrypt and decrypt the message. The "Key-Pair" is constructed by each user of PGP upon installation of the program. The Key-Pair is a random coding of keystrokes and mouse movements converted to a unique identity that is said to be near impossible to "crack", depending to whom youspeak. The user's Public Key can, and arguably should, be widely disseminated both by E-Mail, andby "depositing" the Public Keys on certain web sites whose purpose it is to hold same.
The sender using an E-Mail program, for example, encrypts a message using the PGP and delivers the message to the recipient, attaching to it, the Recipient's Public Key which the sender keeps on the Sender's Public Key Ring. At this point, the Sender's Private Key plays no part in the process, i.e. sending a message.
The message, in encrypted form, if discovered by a third party, could not be read because it looks like garbled letters.
The intended recipient uses the recipient's Public Key which PGP verifies as accurate and true to identify the communication, and uses the Recipient's Private Key, Public Key and the PGP program to unlock the encrypted message because only the Recipient has the correct "Private Key-Last part of the Pair". The holder of the Private Key, and the holder alone, can open the message which has been encoded with the recipient's Public Key----Whew!
In addition to being able to E-Mail files, there is the added benefit of being able to "Piggy back" additional documentation, images, video, sound, and perhaps even types of media of which I am not even aware could be attached to the E-Mail. So, in the E-Mail when you write of an injury, you can attach a photo that the recipient may view at the same time that the E-Mail is read. The reader, may hear his "grandchild's voice", along with the E-Mail letter received. The attorney may "hear the confession" of his client at the same time he reads the handwritten "mia culpa". E-Mail programs mean that voice clips from depositions, statements, or the like may be attached to and E-Mailed and forwarded to the recipient, or many recipients. To make matters more astounding, every mail program I have seen and used has an address lists function. When you, as the sender, wish to send an E-Mail, you have the option of opening the address list and highlighting as many recipients as you desire. With one click of the "Send" key, you may E-Mail your message to virtually an unlimited number of recipients.
Just think of how much time this simple dragging, dropping and clicking can accomplish instead of utilizing the traditional method of gathering written pieces of paper together, photo copying as many pieces of correspondence as are necessary for the job, preparing the necessary envelopes that you wish to mail, collate, sealing in envelopes, stamping and delivering to the mailman for delivery.
The additional steps and disadvantages with regard thereto do not even take into consideration> the instantaneous nature of E-Mail. From the time I was a little boy, I was told that light travels at the speed of One Hundred Eighty Six Thousand miles per second. I don't know why, but I have been led to believe that my E-Mail travels at the same speed. Therefore, the old saw "That neither rain, nor sleet,----" has much relevance to the modern use of E-Mail.
Several mail programs come to mind. There are the mail programs in the Microsoft Internet Explore program, the Netscape program, Pegasus and Eudora. Eudora was designed from the ground up to be a male program. Which is best? For many reasons, I cannot say for certain. I am still using Eudora today. I have utilized all of the foregoing programs, and it is really what you like as a personal choice.
Another advantage to E-Mail over other common media, is that once received, is not only fully editable, but may be printed from your office printers, or same may be modified, altered, amended and finally, changed just the way you like it, as if you were having it generated by Wordperfect or Microsoft's Word.
Consider receiving one hundred to two hundred E-Mail messages per day? Now that should be enough to stop anyone from wanting E-Mail. But wait, there is a fix. First of all, many of the E-Mail messages you will receive will be the product of certain "list serves" (1) you choose to join. Second, all of the programs mentioned offer "Filters". Filters are like efficient secretaries who open your mail, and place them in folders of your choice for your review at the time that you choose. No "paper cuts". No trash. The E-Mails are all safely tucked away on your hard drive. You can read them whenever you like.
I believe that if you try anything, you will try E-Mail and you will never want to go back to the fax machine again.
1. Perhaps for another article