Law Firm’s Spam Blocker Proves Costly after Important Order is Missed

A panel of judges on the First District Court of Appeal did not excuse a “technological hiccup” that caused a law firm to miss a deadline for appealing an order for its client to pay attorneys’ fees in an eminent domain case.

It is an issue that is facing many small to mid-size law firms: Retaining efficient and reliable IT support. This firm had outsourced its support and chose its level of IT service. The firm made two decisions that proved to be detrimental in their case.

  1. Choosing how to configure their spam blocker. The firm chose to fully rely upon the Microsoft Exchange server, which rejected and permanently deleted messages that appeared to be spam.
  2. The firm did not create a back-up system. Doing so would have electronically documented the Court’s order. Failure to do so eliminated the ability to rebut the possibility that the email never arrived.

In the end, the Court found that the law firm was negligent in managing their IT systems, which cost their clients attorneys’ fees.

There is a key lesson to be learned in the case: Appropriately assess the legal impacts of each IT management system’s function and ALWAYS keep a backup.  An article on the case was published last month in the Florida Bar News: Spam Blocker Proves Costly- Firm’s Server Mishandles Judge’s Emailed Order.