DISASTER! In the technological age, the use of communication by email is easier than ever. Most of us have computers, smart phones, and/or tablets such as iPad and Kindle. With ease of use comes security and privilege challenges that most of us never even think about when reviewing and sending emails related to Association business.
As board members, many of your discussions are now taking place through email. You may also receive a great number of association communications, advice, and even opinions from our office, via email.
Now take a minute to ask yourself who has access to your email account? Do you share your account with your spouse, family or significant other? Does your office have the ability to monitor your work emails? If the answer is yes, then you may be inadvertently waiving the attorney-client privilege, or jeopardizing the confidentiality of the Board.
The attorney-client privilege extends to the board member team, not to any other individual. Once other individuals see, hear, read or otherwise know about the advice or opinion of the attorney, it becomes public knowledge and the privilege terminates. Your litigation strategy or contract discussions become available to everyone.
Likewise, if the Association’s records are subpoenaed, the Association’s emails, along with the shared personal, family and work emails would have to be turned over.
Every Board Member must have their own electronic mail address. With free services like Gmail and Yahoo! there is no reason to share your personal email with the Association’s email. Only you, as the board member, should have access to the password for this account to protect the integrity of the information.
A dedicated Association account provides a layer of protection so that the attorney-client privilege is not waived, the Board’s confidential discussions or debates, as well as the emails to and from your spouse, family and work are not made public.
If upon reading this article, you open a new account, please do not forget to send us the updated address for our records!