Lesson #5: Requesting Emails

TL;DR: FOIA requests for emails are among the most common, but can be a shot in the dark. Instead, requesting email metadata can ensure you find what you're looking for. In FOIA Lesson #4, we learned about the importance of flexing your rights by appealing unfavorable determinations. I shared an anecdote about one time that … Continue reading Lesson #5: Requesting Emails

Lesson #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Appeal

TL;DR: The appeal process is a lot less intimidating -- and more effective -- than you may think. You should use it regularly when you don't get what you are looking for. In FOIA Lesson #3, I described the importance of being nice when filing your request, and giving records officers the benefit of the … Continue reading Lesson #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Appeal

Filing Your First FOIA

OK, so you've been reading about FOIA for some time; you've lurked on social media and read some articles on MuckRock; you've shed your crippling anxiety over losing your FOIA virginity; and you might know what it is you'd like to request. Maybe you've even hired me to file one for you and, feeling so … Continue reading Filing Your First FOIA

Lesson #3: Be Nice!

TL;DR: Be cordial, assert your rights only when necessary, and give them the benefit of the doubt until they no longer deserve it.   In FOIA Lesson #2, I described the importance of being as specific as you can in your request for the purpose of easing the amount of work -- and therefore reducing … Continue reading Lesson #3: Be Nice!

Lesson #2: Be Specific, But Not Too Specific

TL;DR: Tailor your request to save work for the records officer -- and save costs -- but being too specific could backfire. Following up on FOIA Lesson #1, in which I described the first lesson I learned since beginning my FOIA journey -- seek out a central repository for the information you are seeking, rather … Continue reading Lesson #2: Be Specific, But Not Too Specific

Lesson #1: My First FOIA & What I Learned From It

This is the first in a series of blog posts on lessons learned since I began my FOIA journey.   TL;DR: Go straight to the source. Learn if there is an agency that serves as a central repository for the information you are seeking, and send the request to them. I first became enthralled by … Continue reading Lesson #1: My First FOIA & What I Learned From It