The blessing and curse of technology

By: Amit Patel

I attended a most informative class last week, given by a computer forensic expert.

This man is hired (often by attorneys) to examine phones, computers, and other devices, to search for electronic evidence in civil and criminal lawsuits.

In one suit he may be looking for evidence of child porn to convict a suspected criminal.

In one suit he may be looking for emails, photos and documents that support one spouse’s theory that the other is hiding assets or has a sweetie on the side.

In my line of work, these smart and expensive experts are hired to find out what documents, client lists and information you dear employee, took, transferred, stole, or sent to Drop Box before you quit your job. The thumb drive you used to “transfer only personal information,” and the texts you sent to customers telling them you were starting your own firm are just the tip of the iceberg for these enterprising computer experts.

And guess what I learned?

I learned, not only can they typically recover all the information you sent, saved, transferred etc. – they can also:

  • Read deleted texts
  • Read deleted emails
  • Find deleted files
  • Discover what paper documents you printed to the office printer before you left
  • Discover what documents you transferred to a cloud
  • Search all emails using key words to determine whether you at any time, took protected trade secret information home
  • Recreate programs and files deleted using program called Evidence Eliminator

Long and short is this – if you tweeted it, messaged someone on Linked In, typed it, saved it, emailed it, transferred it – and you shouldn’t have – they will find out.

And guess what people do when they find out you are taking information from them? THEY SUE YOU.

And guess what I advise you to do when I find out you have taken things (such as client lists, emails) or solicited clients inappropriately? I TELL YOU TO GIVE IT BACK.


Why don’t I make the lawyers do their job and see what they can and cannot prove? Because chances are good you can’t afford that kind of legal battle.

And chances are also good if you let someone go to the computer forensic guy, he will dig up much much more than you and I realize is there.

So, here is the moral of the story.

Be smart.

Have a duty – honor it.

You don’t know whether you have a duty? – find out.

And don’t think you can simply delete everything to protect yourself. Not only will they find it, but Courts typically don’t like the destruction of evidence. It rarely helps your case. Ok, so it never does.





Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at