Emoticons and Emojis: Hazards to be Aware of in Discovery

April 2019

Publication
New Jersey Lawyer

Diana C. Manning
Kathryn Burfitt Rockwood

Technology has transformed how individuals communicate. Not long ago, people communicated by letter or telephone call. Advances in technology then paved the way for email and text messaging. Personal and business communications have evolved from formal letters that took days to arrive to the instant sending and receiving of written messages. In conversation, much of what one means to say is conveyed by how he or she says it, the expression on one’s face, and the harshness or softness of tone. The written word often does not capture humor, sarcasm or context the same way, and text messages, due in part to their brevity, exacerbate this issue. Emoticons and emojis are simply the next step in this evolution. These symbols and images replace words, superseding the actual language. For example, instead of driving to or calling the local Domino’s, ordering a pizza is now as simple as texting a ‘pizza’ emoji to a designated number. As this form of communication evolves, lawyers must be mindful of how it will impact their cases from the outset: What types of interrogatories and document demands need to be considered? Standard practice needs to be adjusted for a changing world.

To read the entire article, please click here.

*This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of New Jersey Lawyer, a publication of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and is reprinted here with permission.