ReadNotify Tracks Important Email

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How many times have you sent an important email to opposing counsel and not received a reply? Or sent a bill to a client that he or she claimed never to have received? Do you just want confirmation that that really important memo was sent to the court by the deadline and received? Throughout my legal career I have experienced all these situations and more, and always wished there was a way to effectively track whether email was received and read. And it turns out there is.


ReadNotify is a service that sends you a report as soon as an email has been opened, including the date and time of opening and a likelihood of where it was opened. I pay $3.99 per month to track up to 350 emails with a boatload of features, including a breakdown of activities for each reader (if it was sent to multiple people), warnings if the email is deleted without reading it, certified proof-of-posting digital signatures, and even self-destructing email (cue Mission: Impossible music). And unlike some other read receipt email programs, ReadNotify does not require the recipient to take any actions to send the receipt to you, so you don’t have to worry about whether a disorganized opposing counsel is interested in letting you know he received the message. It also doesn’t embed graphics into the email to track the message—like SpyPig or WhoReadMe—which can be a problem if the recipient does not allow graphics to appear in his or her email. You can explore some of the alternative email tracking services, but I have yet to find a silent tracking service that is as reliable as ReadNotify and also provides certified read receipts.

As a subscriber, I also get a browser plugin and software that allows me to easily select which emails are tracked and which are not, so I don’t track all the email I send, which would be completely unnecessary.

Once the tracked email has been received and opened, you will receive a confirmation email. Here is a PDF of a confirmation I received (with personal information redacted).

Now when that not-so-friendly opposing counsel claims he never received the demanded information and will be moving forward with a hearing, you can show him and the judge that he did, in fact, receive it. Or you can remind that forgetful client of yours that he has received the bill three times.

In the legal profession, documentation is everything. And although documentation of documentation might seem like overkill, it’s nice to know that you can prove the receipt and reading of that communication. If you don’t want to go for the whole kit and kaboodle right away, ReadNotify offers a free trial that ends after the earlier of either 2 weeks or 25 emails. And for firms with more than one attorney, ReadNotify offers business accounts (with priority technical support), and will take care of the registration process if you need more than 10 sub-accounts.

I have found the ability to track and confirm receipt of email to provide invaluable peace of mind for my most important correspondence and document sending, and for only $3.99 a month I will be using it for a long time.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysza/4084440851/)

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  • Annette

    This is awful, and thanks for alerting me to this program. I’m an attorney who works with high conflict divorce clients, and there’s no question that they are using tracking software against their exes and any court-appointed personnel (like me) involved with their case. The thought that they can track when and where I’m reading their emails (which is often from my home) is horrifying. I’ve already asked my IT guy to make sure ReadNotify can be blocked from my office and personal computers (and he assures me this can be done).

    • Interesting. Not at all the response I was expecting. I used to use a similar service to confirm receipt so I could effect service by email. It’s a tremendously useful tool for lawyers.

      I understand your concern, but I imagine that, if you are worried about people finding our your home address, there are easier ways for them to go about it. As you can see from the receipt, ReadNotify can’t come up with an address, anyway. Not yet, at least.

    • jcee

      Late to this party, but my 2 cents: Readnotify is not perfect in location tracing or even in tracking opened emails; however, as a party in divorce who was hacked and having hired many people to stop the hacking, unsuccessfully, readnotify helped “scare away” the hacker… (opposing counsel actually sent MY bank statements to my attorney as part of husband’s discovery to intimidate or something…seriously). The hacker husband was caught, legally and with court admissible evidence for hiring a hacker to forward my email to him; however, any half wit hacker will smell readnotify as a honeypot and go, which is about the best you can hope for. I would recommend divorce attorneys suggest to clients in contentious divorces to use read notify as a tool for keeping confidential email just that. And if email is being read by anyone unintended, there may be options to pursue under the Stored Communications Act. Given the gap between law and technology, readnotify has its uses.

  • I wasn’t expecting that response either, but it’s an interesting perspective I hadn’t considered. Sam’s comment seems right to me, though: The location of the email is not all that revealing unless it pinpoints a person in a small town who has a unique name. Then I suppose that person could be more easily tracked down. But if opposing parties finding your home is an issue, then figuring out how to block it certainly makes sense.

    I also didn’t know that service by email was accepted, regardless of what proof of receipt exists. Is that specifically outlined in the rules somewhere, or inferred?

    Personally, I love the ability to ensure either important or time-sensitive email has been received, and if I can use it for service as well then that’s a fantastic bonus.

    • I would say rather that service by email is not prohibited, so you can agree to it. I usually ask opposing counsel to agree to it at the scheduling conference in federal cases. But only with email confirmation.

  • Michael

    Hi. Any prior use of readnotify data in court?
    Their web site says it provides notarized dating of emails. How legal/efficient is this in court?
    Thanks.
    Mike

  • Serenak

    “It also doesn’t embed graphics into the email to track the message—like SpyPig or WhoReadMe—which can be a problem if the recipient does not allow graphics to appear in his or her email.”
    —————
    From what I’ve been able to gather from other sources , Readnotify *is* image-based. If not, what is your impression of what device in the sent e-mail is being used to enable tracking?

    (I am also coming at this from the perspective of finding it questionable, invasive, and wanting to block it.)

  • Scott

    Has any State Bar addressed anything like this where you appear to be, in essence, putting a “program” on someone else’s computer without their knowledge, so that their computer sends you information they may no want you to have?

  • bradisa

    Although I still cannot see any reason why it would be considered wrong to use ReadNotify, a Domestic Violence restraining order was just (March 26) issued against me for using ReadNotify. The judge felt it disturbed the recipient’s peace and privacy. The order is only for me to not use ReadNotify (or similar) for one year.

    Just thought it was important that people know this because I used it based on the disclaimer on ReadNotify’s site that it was not illegal in ANY country….

  • saco

    Aside from the “readnotify.com” website, this blog post is the top result for a google search term “readnotify.com”.
    You may not be aware of the invasive nature of this service. Its use could result in your emails being automatically routed to trash or spam.
    Recently someone received several unsolicited emails from an attorney, which all were routed to the “spam” folder, because there was a tracking image attached from readnotify.com. The tracking image is clearly designed to escape notice, by displaying at zero pixel size or matching the background color. According to the readnotify.com service description, they provide a tracking service whose purpose is to report the location and time that the image was downloaded, without being detected by the person who downloads it. Arguably this is not something a professional or ethical business would use.

    • It’s not unprofessional or unethical to use delivery confirmation for email, and the tracking pixel is what makes the service work. Without it, you can’t confirm delivery.