A Lawyer, Like David Blade

During my powerless, cold hiatus,  Marc Randazza did a bit of digging into a website that posted naked photos of people with names and some personal information, and then offered the services of “takedown lawyer” David Blade, who guarantees success.

Marc offered takedown lawyer David Blade the opportunity to establish that he was a real lawyer, and received nonsensical threats in return.  You see, no lawyer by the name of “David Blade” could be found, even though he had a website that proclaimed him a lawyer and was taking money from people on the internet for representing them.  His excuse?

I work as a Public Defender for the State of New York. I’m a real attorney – not an ‘internet lawyer’.

And people pay him $250 via paypal for his guaranteed service of getting their naked photos removed from the site.  As Randazza later concluded, takedown lawyer David Blade and the owner of the website were the same person. Shocking, right?  Just your basic internet scam. There’s plenty more about the scam at  The Legal Satyricon and Popehat, so read up there for the full flavor.

So you’re a lawyer strutting your stuff on the internet too. You’re screwing with people by concealing your date of admission, or perhaps promoting your wins without mention of your losses. You rationalize your social media self-promotion through situational ethics, where you’re only obliged to be honest when it suits your marketing needs, all the time pretending that you’re every bit as ethical as all the other lawyers.  Lawyers like, well, David Blade.

You see, on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. The victims of the scam website turned to “takedown lawyer” David Blade, paid him money, and believed they had hired a lawyer to help them when all they really did was pay off a scammer.

Of course, this has nothing to do with you, right? After all, you really are a lawyer. You went to law school. You passed the bar. You have the legal authority to call yourself a lawyer and to represent people, and be paid for your services.  Because David Blade doesn’t exist, and you do. You’re real. He’s not.

Except on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Or a lawyer. Or David Blade.  On the internet, anyone can fake it, lie through their teeth and take money from unsuspecting victims of fraud, extortion and scams. To lawyers, the David Blade scam may seem relatively transparent.  To non-lawyers, however, it looked real enough, and frankly, it wasn’t a lot different than what many lawyers do and say about themselves on the internet to make a quick buck.  So what if his language was off. Non-lawyers aren’t sufficiently familiar with our jargon to recognize it, and it was close enough to be believable to at least 42 victims.

Promoters of the “new normal,” the use of social media as the path to fame and riches for lawyers, regularly argue that clients aren’t fooled by lying lawyers on the web.  Clients aren’t that stupid, they say. Well, it’s not a matter of clients being stupid, but a matter of the ease with which lies abound online.  David Blade. 

And this is called “transparency,” where anyone can write anything, immune from scrutiny, or perhaps add  some cool pictures to pretend they have an actual law firm, and is supposed to open up a new world of opportunity for clients to find lawyers and decide whether they’re the right lawyer for them.  Like David Blade. 

After being outed by Randazza, the “takedown lawyer” changed his website to the “takedown hammer.”  But it’s still there, still using the internet to deceive and scam victims out of money. 

Does the fact that a non-existent lawyer can make money on the internet disturb you or delight you? Does this show that if you will only go low enough, win the race to the bottom, you too can make money on the internet?  Is David Blade the type of lawyer you want to be?

But of course, this has nothing to do with you, right? You’re a real lawyer. You would never slime up the internet by desperately crafting websites suggesting anything false, misleading or concealing, right?  And all the legal futurist guru’s tell you that this is the how the practice of law in the future is going to be, so that makes it totally acceptable to do anything you have to do to make a buck.  Virtual lawyering. Unbundling. Low-balling.

And you’re nothing like David Blade.  Maybe a little jealous that he’s making money as a lawyer and he doesn’t even exist, because on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

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