As The Blawgosphere Turns

Having criticized Legal Blog Watch’s n00b Eric Lipman (no blog link for Eric, because, well, Eric has no blog) for his fashion sense (and myopia), it seemed appropriate to follow up with my own stroll through the blawgosphere, kicking the can in the gutter so to speak.

A few days ago, Ed at Blawgreview sent me a link to another of the new genre of Lawyer scam websites, this mutt called Best Attorneys Online.  Why call it that?  Because Lawyers So Lousy And Desperate For Business That They Will Pay Some Yutz Like Me For A Listing On My Internet Scam Website would not be a big draw,  Sadly, before I posted about this new scam, largely because so much of my time this week has been eaten up with fighting another marketing scam, the backlinks comment scheme, Bob Ambrogi beat me to it.  The website claims to be

“an independent authority on the best attorneys at law,” and went to say:

The independent authority evaluates each attorney at law based several identified factors depending on the field of expertise. An assigned experienced research team reviews case history and firm expertise on the targeted field of practice taking into account specialized state variances on the legal issues. The team analyzes information provided by each firm, and compares that against the market of lawyers throughout the state. Once the evaluation is complete, the team compiles the overall data, and assigns each firm a ranking.

So far so good. I decided to check…

Shock.  It’s a total scam, listing attorneys as “best” in fields they don’t practice and in states they aren’t admitted.  Tell me again how it’s beneficial to the public, to the legal consumer, that there be all these wonderful ways to search for lawyers, while websites and lawyers lie through their teeth about the qualifications and merit?  But “we have to advertise” or no one will know we exist, I’m constantly told.  If you thought Total Attorneys was bad, they may emerge as one of the cleaner get-rich-quick schemes on the internet.

After all, what’s honesty when there’s a buck to be made.  And it’s not like we’re lawyers.  Oops. we are lawyers. Never mind.

Over at Concurring Opinions, lawprof Danielle Citron is still pounding the pavement in her quest to turn the free speech issue of online “harassment” (defined as anything that makes some woman feel bad) into a feminist issue.  As much as I admire her tenacity, horses across the nation are complaining about the resultant shortage of straw.

This time, the Denver University Law Review has sponsored a symposium to debate the issue.  Unfortunately, the trick is to have a debate amongst sycophants, carefully vetting the participants to make sure that no one gets in the door who isn’t wholly wedded to the gender shift.  It’s an important lesson for law students, that if you want to win an argument, make sure that nobody who disagrees is around.  Smart move, Danielle.

In the meantime, the very nasty, and yet remarkably dubious, trial in the media of 30 year old John Albert Gardner III is proceeding at ABC’s Good Morning America.  Gardner is accused of raping and murdering 17 year old Chelsea King, a horrific crime and one which, if he’s proven guilty, surely merits the fullest outrage our system can provide.  The piece by Mike Von Fremd, et al., naturally starts out with questions by John Walsh, never one to let proof of guilt precede condemnation, like “Why was this animal out on the streets?” But it gets worse from there.

Former San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst was slightly more objective.

“I am of the view that people who do harm to teenage girls should go to Gitmo and stay there for the rest of their lives and be waterboarded,” he said.

It’s one thing to have a non-lawyer advocate like Walsh ranting, but to have the former San Diego County District Attorney adding to the lynching is an entirely different matter.  Bad enough that Lee Stonum, an Orange County PD and one of my favorite commenters here for his glee is making sure to let me know when I’m wrong, shot off an outrage email to Pfingst about his “despicable disregard for the Constitution.”  To his (and my) surprise, Pfingst responded:

My comment was that as a parent I would want the most extreme punishment for a rapist killer. The way it was phrased was intended to be so over the top that it would be immediately recognized as hyperbole.

I went on to say that it would be wrong to have a criminal justice system that acted based upon the emotions of the moment. . My point was that anger cannot overwhelm our need to follow the legal processes. I went on to point out that so far we didn’t know a single piece of evidence. Only leaks and rumors. And that he is presumed innocent.

I have long since given up trying to seek corrections from the press.

Nothing like taking the 10 seconds of a quote that leaves the ugliest misimpression, eh Mike?  While this serves as a reminder that speaking to the press carries grave risks, it also reminds us that the internet is an unforgiving place, where one out-of-context quote will be repeated enough to wrongly smear someone forever.  Even Doug Berman, in his post on the Gardner case, perpetuates Pfingst’s quote.  After all, GMA would never lie.

And finally, via Walter Olson at Overlawyered, a truly interesting Reason TV interview with a remarkably youthful looking Eugene Volokh.  The best part comes at the end, when Eugene does a rousing rendition of the Phil Ochs classic, Outside of a Small Circle of Friends, accompanied by 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski on the ocarina.

Okay, that wasn’t Judge Kozinski.  So sue me.

23 comments on “As The Blawgosphere Turns

  1. SHG

    Colin Samuels said he doesn’t like you and you dress funny, but he talks to you because he feels badly that no one else will.

  2. PointOfLaw Forum

    Around the web, March 5

    Legal academia edition: Pranky remarks by Georgetown lawprof in class may have been origin of false Roberts-retirement rumor [Above the Law] “Imagining a reverse Yoo” [Kerr at Volokh and followup] “Law School and the Bar Exam: A Snapshot from 1898″…

  3. Jamison

    Mr. Greenfield:

    I had an interesting voice message on my machine the other day and thought of you. The guy told me he worked for a law firm in Chicago and that he needed a D.C. referral. He then said some flattering things about me.

    Being susceptible to flattery (and also an idiot), I returned the call. It turns out it was one of these referral services. They have a website — not a very good one, as it turns out — and will send you information on every “contact” they receive in exchange for $100 per contact.

    Are you even a lawyer, I asked the guy? Well, actually no, but I work for a lawyer. The lawyer who set up the system apparently does bankruptcy. That is, he used to until he figured out this scheme.

    Thanks but no thanks.

  4. SHG

    Mr. Greenfield?  Ouch.  That really hurts.

    You probably didn’t have much exposure to the wide world of lawyer marketing while a PD, but you’re now in for a shock as you get to experience the scam-a-day world of private lawyers.  The fact that lawyers are targeted, both internally and externally, is a testament to the fact that lawyers bite, go for the get-rich-quick schemes and scams.  If we weren’t going for it, the scammers would go elsewhere.  They focus on lawyers for a reason.  Greed clouds judgment.

  5. Jamison

    The “Mr” thing is just a stupid affectation on my part. And you’re right, these marketing scams have been eye-opening.

  6. marty d

    In Iowan and Nebraska, there is a warning going out to all attorneys. There is a scam that is variation of the Nigerian money scam. A “client” retains the attorney and sends a large retainer check The check is for more than the reatiner. The attorney is then asked to send the overage. Guess how good the original check is? A couple of Hawaiian firms fell for the scam.

  7. SHG

    I can still remember my first exposure to the Nigerian lottery scam.  It was by snail mail, as this was long before faxes existed.  The letters would arrive at my office, with the same fabulous grammer and spelling that persists to this day. 

    Think about it.  Almost 30 years later and it’s still, in one form or another, going full steam.  Lawyers are just too easy when it comes to being scammed.

  8. Ron Coleman

    More with the hurtfulness! If you don’t mind, Mr. Self-Loathing, lawyers are also the people who are most likely to be trusted with large amounts of other people’s money as fiduciaries, ya know.

    Why can’t we all just — **gag** ##retch##

  9. SHG

    Yeah right, like lawyers can do HTML.  Hull’s on his way to your office as I type, Coleman.

  10. Jim Keech

    *sigh* Now I’m REALLY bummed. Apparently I’m so obscure that even scammers won’t bother with me. Ohhh, the agony.

  11. SHG

    I’m giving Eric Lipman a little extra latitude since he’s new to the blawgosphere and doesn’t have a firm grasp on what’s appropriate as yet.

    You, on the other hand, get no such slack.

  12. Antonin I Pribetic

    The phishing scams will likely become more sophisticated over time, but here’s one that I received yesterday that had me at the personalized salutation:

    Dear Lawyer,

    My name is David Luo Nicholas. I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement with my ex wife (Jenice Nicholas) who resides in Canada. I am currently on assignment in Japan. We had an out of court agreement for her to pay $148,450.00 plus legal fees. She has only paid me $44,000. I am hereby seeking your firm to represent me in collecting the balance from her.

    She has agreed already to pay me the balance but it is my belief that a Law firm like yours is needed to help me collect payment from my ex-wife or litigate this matter if she fails to pay as promised.


    David Nicholas.

  13. SHG

    I received the same one yesterday as well, and it’s a variation on a hundred I’ve received in the past couple of months, following up on the Hong Kong manufacturer needing representation, etc.

    And lawyers keep falling.

  14. Donald Kudler

    Just got mine today. Mine was from Dennis, not David, and Jenice owes Dennis $348,450.00. The sad thing is that many a good lawyer has fallen for this scam ending up in having their Trust Accounts our of balance and exposing them to penalties for ethics violations.

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