Registered Email™, an Effective Method for Verification by MichelleLore, Minnesota Lawyer

April 01, 2007 / in News / by RPost

Registered Email™, an Effective Method for Verification by MichelleLore, Minnesota Lawyer

Anyone who says advertising at trade shows doesn’t pay off should talk to Hennepin County Bar Association executive director Larry Buxbaum.

The HCBA recently hooked up with a Registered Email™ service, RPost, at a meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives. After some research into the product, the HCBA agreed to partner with RPost to provide the service to it members.

“We were interested to hear about what it was that they were offering and we thought that it was something new that might be of benefit to our members,” Buxbaum told Minnesota Lawyer. “It struck us as a good service to make available,” agreed HCBA president Michael W. Unger said. “For those that want to document electronic communications, it’s a good way of doing that.” According to Buxbaum, several bar associations across the country have started offering Registered Email™ services that avoid the potential problems inherent in regular email.

Without Registered Email™, the receiver of a message could simply say that he or she did not get the message or “that is not what the message said” to get out of a performance requirement, Buxbaum explained in a letter to members announcing the program. In addition, Buxbaum noted, plain text in an email can be easily altered. A standard email that is sent or received, archived electronically or stored in printed form, has limited evidentiary value in court because the content can be easily changed.

Registered Email™, on the other hand, provides proof of delivery, proof of content and an official time stamp. Specifically, Registered Email™ messages protect the sender with evidence of the entire email transaction in case of a dispute involving email. It provides:

  • proof the email was sent, and proof it was received and when; and
  • legally valid evidence of the email content sent and received, including any attachments.

The primary benefit of Registered Email™ is that it assures that emails are received and that they are received in the form in which they are sent, just as with regular registered mail, Buxbaum said. In addition, Registered Email™ messages comply with electronic standards and statutes, and unlike Outlook “read receipts,” Registered Email™ does not rely upon the receiver to do anything to generate the return of the Registered Receipt™ email that protects the sender.

With Registered Email™, there are no passwords, keys or downloads necessary for the sender to be protected — and an optional feature allows the sender to extend those same protections to the recipient. Importantly, RPost does not store a copy of the email message or attachments so there is no threat of discovery. “It’s not the kind of thing that one needs for every email communication, but rather … for an email that contains a document that the sending attorney would be anxious to make sure was received in exactly the form that it was sent, as well as to have a very specific record of when it was sent, when it was received and what it’s content was,” said Buxbaum.

According to the HCBA website, through the HCBA’s agreement with RPost, members will get:

  • a 50-percent discount on software license and account activation;
  • a free pack of Registered Email™ units with the purchase of any service pack; and
  • a month free with the monthly flat-rate service.

Notably, RPost’s Registered Email™ will work with an attorney or law firm’s current email client or system. Unger told Minnesota Lawyer that he views the Registered Email™ service as simply an extension of the traditional ways lawyers have used to prove service. “It’s just a little different wrinkle because of the development in technology,” he said.

HCBA officials say that it’s too early to tell whether there are any downsides to the Registered Email™ service, but they are confident that it will be well received by members and they encourage users to provide them with feedback. “Our approach is to make it widely available and publicized for those who see it as an attractive option,” said Unger.

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Registered Email™ has numerous benefits for law practice

RPost, the company that recently teamed up with the Hennepin County Bar Association to provide Registered Email™ service to HCBA members, points out on its website that the service is provides value in a wide variety of legal situations.

First, Registered Email™ can be an effective way to provide notices in both the corporate and litigation context. In corporate practice, it can be used to send notices of:

  • compliance with securities laws or corporate bylaws;
  • compliance with contractual obligations; and
  • compliance with labor regulations.

In the litigation context, Registered Email™ can be used to send notices to opposing parties or administrative bodies. Specifically, it can be used to:

  • serve cease and desist notices for intellectual property infringement;
  • send notices as required under contracts, statutes, etc.;
  • serve court or administrative agency filings and other litigation documents;
  • deliver demand letters or any prerequisite-to-suit documents;
  • document discovery correspondence in litigation, for later use in court;
  • send emergency notices of preliminary injunction and other court hearings;
  • document lawyer agreements made during litigation or corporate deal-making (thereby avoiding potential disputes about what was said and when); and
  • provide cost effective and instant notice to foreign entities or those with only an electronic address.

Registered Email™ can also effectively be used for a variety of client communications, including:

  • sending engagement letters and other understandings defining the scope of representation (it returns proof of agreement to protect against future disputes);
  • sending legal opinions, memoranda and other advice to clients (it memorializes discussions with clients about risks, status and other sensitive matters, and returns legal proof of what was discussed to protect against future liability);
  • sending billing notices and requests (it returns proof of acceptance by the client).

Finally, Registered Email™ is an effective method for:

  • sending formal opinion letters, because it allows for circulation to any party and any recipient can verify origin and have the authentic email regenerated;
  • circulating final, executed contracts, because any party can verify authenticity at any time; and
  • circulating bulletins and newsletters to clients and stakeholders, because any receiver can check for tampering or hoaxes.

This article is being reprinted with permission from “Minnesota Lawyer.”