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Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a litigation attorney. Thanks for your question. I'll be glad to assist.
Email privacy is a huge topic in the legal world today, so you have to be careful - - and you obviously appreciate that danger since you've raised this question.
Generally, verbal permission is not good enough, and the reason is that if the gmail user changes his/her story, you could be looking at some legal liability.
Instead, you would really need to get written permission to do this beforehand. A simple statement that gives you the authority to access the email account to get specified information, and signed off by the account owner is the best option.
That way, you have documented proof that you have full authority do perform the actions you did.
Hi Kirk - thanks for the response. My client requesting this is actually an attorney. Would it be a fair assumption to make that he would have obtained this written authorization?
Sorry for the delay - I had a phone call to attend to.
I don't think it's ever safe to assume anything, honestly.
You certainly can ask if written authorization was given, and if not, you can request that this attorney draft something up to allow the access to be made with written permission.