When I received the email from Dan Hull at What About Clients/Paris? it wasn’t hard to imagine the look of exasperation on his face. There are few people in the blawgosphere who have had their content ripped off more consistently than Dan, and unlike the rest of us whose posts ended up on some scammer’s website, Dan’s was different. The thief always seemed to be a lawyer. Lawyers just wanted what Dan wrote.
This time it was a young Dallas/Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer named Carl David Ceder, who had lifted wholesale one of Hull’s best known and most appreciated posts, his 12 Rules of Client Service. This was first posted in 2006 and may be the post for which Hull is best known.
And there it was, on 2007 Houston law grad Carl David Ceder’s website, in all its glory. No permission. Not even credit. Just as if this kid came up with it all by himself, instead of stealing it from Dan Hull.
So I asked Dan if he sent the kid an email, and he told me he sent the kid a question, whether Ceder wrote the 12 Rules himself? But Hull heard nothing back and was off to Hanover, New Hampshire to conduct a Sensitivity training Seminar for the Dartmouth College rugby team. Again.
Not being particularly inclined to let things go so easily, I sent Ceder an email as well:
I’m a criminal defense lawyer in New York and have a blog called Simple Justice. It’s pretty well regarded and widely read. Even in Texas. It’s come to my attention that you have posted a page on your website about the “12 Rules for Client Service.”
These were written by a buddy of mine, Dan Hull, for his blog. I note that you have neither permission to take his content or have even given Hull credit for the content.
This is a matter of some concern. Stealing content is frowned upon.
I plan to write about what you’ve done tomorrow. The question is what to write about. I ask two things of you: tell me how it came to happen that this content appears on your website as if it was yours, and tell me what you plan to do about it. Your answers to these questions will dictate what I write about, and likely what others will have to say about you. If I don’t hear from you, I will assume the worst.
If you have made a mistake, I would hope you would acknowledge it and correct it. If someone put your website together for you, and they stole the content without your realizing it, that would also be worth knowing. I await your response today. Either way, you should anticipate a post about this tomorrow.
No word back from Carl. There are many possibilities, that he was away for the holiday weekend. That he really doesn’t exist. That he doesn’t check his email during the winter months.
Or that this young lawyer, an Avvo 10 “Pro” despite his youth and inexperience, never thought he would get caught stealing from more experienced lawyers in order to market himself.
Curiously, Ceder’s Avvo profile oozes with sincerity, spelling issues notwithstanding:
I can tell you with absolute and complete honesty that all of my client and peer endorsement reviews on this AVVO account are completelely [sic] and 100% authentic. My office takes great pride in our work, and it brings us great joy when our former clients or a professional colleague endorses the work of my law practice. I fully realize that there will come a time when someone may write a bad, negative, or even a “so-so review.”
So what exactly does “absolute and complete honesty” mean when coming from a kid lawyer busy marketing the crap out of himself on the interwebz who steals the content of another lawyer and tries to pass it off as his own? Redundancy aside, it means nothing. You just destroyed the one thing that no lawyer can afford to lose, integrity. Falsus in uno. falsus in omnibus, kid.
It takes hard work and experience to come up with something of the quality of the 12 Rules of Client Service. It takes nothing more than a mouse to steal it. And if you think creating the 12 Rules is hard, it’s nothing compared to training the Dartmouth Rugby Team to be sensitive. On the other hand, writing a blawg post about another kid lawyer who steals content and lacks integrity takes no effort at all.