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Metadata in Electronic Documents OK to Use in Court, ABA Rules

Attorneys receiving electronic documents are free to use so-called “metadata” and other information embedded in those documents, the American Bar Association has ruled.

The ABA said metadata includes such information as the last date and time that a document was saved and by whom, data on when it was accessed, the name of the owner of the computer that created the document and the date and time it was created, as well as a record of changes made to the document or related written comments.

Google recently inadvertently leaked financial projections and the U.S. Justice Department revealed Social Security numbers through metadata.

According to the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, information obtained from this buried data is free game for establishing the who, what, when, where, why and hows relating to litigation.

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The ABA committee said the only provision is that its rules of professional conduct require the recipient to notify the sender when they “receive what the lawyer should reasonably know were inadvertently sent documents.”

Businesses or attorneys sending, producing or providing documents to opposing counsel can limit the likelihood of transmitting metadata by saving documents as a PDF file, communicating via facsimile, through the use of software or using several other security tricks.

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Honors For Good Impressions:

Nancy Scull, a partner in the San Diego office of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP’s real estate practice group, has been recognized by Real Estate Southern California magazine as one of the region’s “Most Influential Women” for 2006.

The annual list honors women throughout the region for their contributions to commercial real estate and their communities.

Scull has worked on real property acquisitions and dispositions of $5 million to more than $100 million in transaction value.

She frequently presents at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, California State Bar programs and participates in panel discussions on the challenge of high-rise and urban projects.

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New Bar Directors:

Five new directors elected by the San Diego County Bar Foundation are Ethan Boyer, James Gilpin, Christian Humphreys, Eddie Wang Rodriguez and James Sandler.

Boyer is a partner at Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge LLP in San Diego.

Gilpin is a partner with Best Best & Krieger LLP’s San Diego office and serves on the firm’s executive committee.

Humphreys is a partner with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP’s San Diego office.

Rodriguez is a member of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC’s San Diego office.

Sandler is a partner with San Diego-based Sandler, Lasry, Laube, Byer & Valdez LLP.

The San Diego County Bar Foundation supports, funds and encourages the creation of public service programs that promote education, citizenship and the ideals of justice.


Send law news to Michelle Mowad at

mmowad@sdbj.com

. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3112.

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