Why, I Do Believe I Have Been Subjected To A Note Of Sarcasm!


So I got some comment spam from a Canadian law firm. It was typically incoherent but unusually open about pimping the firm in question.

Rather than write about them immediately in an uncomplimentary way, I decided to write them and ask for a comment.


I write regarding comment spam apparently directed by your firm.

I am a lawyer and blogger in Los Angeles. Like other lawbloggers in my circle, one of my favored topics is bad marketing by lawyers. One example of bad marketing is comment spam: the use of computer programs to send thousands of irrelevant and often incoherent spam comments onto blogs across the internet in an attempt to promote a website.

I recently received comment spam promoting your firm at my site. The comment said: [deleted out of misplaced sense of mercy so you won't Google it.] Yes, it was like that in the original.

Would you like to make any comment before I write about this, as I have written about other comment spammers? (See, e.g., http://www.popehat.com/2011/10/10/too-seldom-is-the-question-asked-who-are-be-defensing-our-criminals/)

In particular, I would like a comment on (1) whether anyone with [Canuk, Snowy & Censorious LLP] authorized this comment spam campaign, and (2) if not, the identity of the marketing firm that conducted it on your behalf.



Shortly I got a reply.

Hello Mr. White;
I thank you very much for your considerate feedback.
Yes we had been using someone to do some website promotion
for us. Although they assured us that they were not automating
anything, this is the second complaint we have received and
will proceed to terminate their services.

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to you and your
reputable firm.

Warmest regards,

Why, I do believe that fellow had a tone.

Anyway, remember: outsource your marketing, outsource your reputation and ethics.

Last 5 posts by Ken White



  1. Peter H  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:03 pm

    If you want to do social marketing as a law firm, just get some 20 yr old interns and pay them minimum wage, then at least they'll be in house for you to scold them.

  2. Ann Bransom  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:05 pm

    I'm pretty impressed that they wrote you back at all. Inversely, I am pretty DEpressed that there are still people in my industry that think spamming blogs does ANYTHING for your marketing campaign.

    sad face.

  3. Keith D  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:18 pm

    Which was the sarcastic part?

  4. Missa  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:21 pm

    I think lawbloggers should be called blawggers. I also think this is hilariously clever.

  5. Brian Utterback  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:34 pm

    Looks pretty sincere to me. I think a lot of people are still getting the hang of this internet thingie, and don't realize there is a problem until it is pointed out to them.

  6. Lisa  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:41 pm

    @ Keith D & Brian Utterback My guess at the sarcasm part is when they said they received 2 complaints?

  7. Hikaru Katayamma  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:45 pm

    Keith D: I think it was the "you and your reputable firm" that was the sarcastic part. That is unless the "Etc." at the end was from them and not Ken, at which point I'd have to say BOTH were sarcasm. =^_^=

  8. SPQR  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:54 pm

    And yet, I admire the deftness of it. The ambiguity is a feature of the finest sarcasm.

  9. Margaret  •  Jun 21, 2012 @12:57 pm

    Yes, if anything I think it is the "you and your reputable firm".

  10. Peyote Short  •  Jun 21, 2012 @1:09 pm

    He writes "Mr. White" like it's the name of an evil supervillian. I'd put him on the beta test list for whatever particular ray is ready for trails next.

  11. Bearman  •  Jun 21, 2012 @1:27 pm

    Didn't strike me as sarcastic.

  12. Trisha Lynn  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:07 pm

    I also didn't think it was sarcastic. It's definitely gracious, unless in lawyer-speak "gracious" means "extremely sarcastic."

    My boyfriend, an attorney, says that the more brief and polite the letter, the more they want to decapitate you and defecate down your exposed trachea. Is this true?

  13. TomB  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:10 pm

    Ken, you know you wouldn't have this trouble if you weren't such an <a href="https://twitter.com/AJ91_lotr/status/215889588978319360&quot; title="emotive blogger".

    Alexander looks pensive in that picture, I think.

  14. TomB  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:12 pm

    Screwed up the code, sorry.

    It would have been my best yet.


  15. John Walsh  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:18 pm

    When I think "Mr. White", I hear somebody yelling "Great Caesar's ghost !" and imagine this guy:

  16. Linus  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:24 pm

    It's the last part that's sarcastic, but it's pretty well done. As Ken says, it's not necessarily the words, it's the tone. Deft.

    Someday, when I am bored, I will hire some legal marketing spam blogs for my firm, and wait for Ken's email to roll in and then he'll get a "PUNKED! ROOOOOOLLLLL TIIIIIIDDDEE!" in reply.

  17. i love a good tale of ass-hattery  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:30 pm

    canadians– do they even do sarcasm?

  18. Ken  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:34 pm

    The parts I read as sarcastic are "considerate feedback" and "reputable firm," as well as "warmest regards" (unless that's a wistful Canadian thing.)

  19. mojo  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:46 pm

    Presumably, had yours been a disreputable firm, he wouldn't have apologized. ;)

    Other than that, I'd say just "Canadian" – they tend to be a little too nice for American tastes sometimes.

  20. rocketgeek  •  Jun 21, 2012 @2:53 pm

    I'm reading 'angry and embarrassed Canuck', not sarcasm, in the letter.

    I feel a bit sorry for these folks — they know they need to market online, but doesn't have clue one how to do it. They're lawyers, not marketers. So they hire someone they think is good… and they proceed to shit on their reputation by doing sleazy stuff like this. Assuming no further bad behavior, I'm inclined to be sympathetic.

  21. Charles  •  Jun 21, 2012 @3:13 pm

    I think you are reading sarcasm what you should be reading as "Canadian manners." Undermined by your own cynicism!

  22. Thorne  •  Jun 21, 2012 @3:21 pm

    As a Canadian, let me just say I saw nothing in that letter that had a "tone".
    Politeness is key for us and one of the factors that makes us a target of ridicule from others. Seriously.

    Not so seriously, it all stems from a country-wide worship of Dalton from 'Road House', the greatest film ever made, despite what that douchebag, Ricky Bobby, would tell you about 'Highlander'.

    "Show them to the door. But be nice. Until it's time to not be nice."

    In Dalton we trust, eh?

  23. Kinsey  •  Jun 21, 2012 @3:30 pm

    IANAL but I'm a law librarian with many years around the breed, and if it were an American lawyer I'd say yes, the "reputable firm" bit was a dig, but a clever and gracious one. One complaint about spam would've been too many so yeah, I'd say he's embarrassed.

    I do have sympathy for smaller firms, especially ones that don't have any tech-inclined/interested practitioners. I work for a BigLaw firm and we have a fantastic director of internet marketing, but that's definitely something only the big boys can afford.

  24. Jason  •  Jun 21, 2012 @3:39 pm

    I don't see the sarcasm either. It sounds rather polite. If I were to write a letter of this nature I imagine it would read a lot like this one.

  25. Ann  •  Jun 21, 2012 @3:42 pm

    Inbound marketing can and should be managed in-house by someone with a background in your industry and it doesn't have to be expensive. I bet there would be brawl in the parking lot of most law firms for a law student internship where the student was responsible for establishing that law firm as an expert through social media interaction and blogging. Consulting an inbound marketing specialist is a good idea, but ultimately the content itself needs to come from the company. Otherwise, you're just pissing in the virtual wind, and risking spraying someone in the face in the process, like what happened here.

    Sorry, Ken. You got peed on in that analogy.

  26. DRS  •  Jun 21, 2012 @4:02 pm

    Nothing sarcastic there, Ken. Just typical Canadian-ness, and quite old-school at that. It's how we roll. Are Americans so used to digs and implied insults that they're assumed to be everywhere?

  27. TomB  •  Jun 21, 2012 @4:28 pm

    Ken, this thread is getting boring. Can you recommend another one on a better blog?

    'cause that would be AWESOME.

  28. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 21, 2012 @5:36 pm

    One internet to TomB…

  29. Ms Cats Meow  •  Jun 21, 2012 @6:22 pm

    Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, is similarly tired of mistargeted, poorly done marketing pitches. In her case the pitches often feature celebrities standing next to some random product, neither of which has anything to do with the content of her blog. She has a special page on her website that she directs those people to which features a photo of Wil Wheaton collating paper and a long list of reasons the ad-person may have been directed there. It is an awesome page: http://thebloggess.com/heres-a-picture-of-wil-wheaton-collating-papers/

  30. Stephen  •  Jun 21, 2012 @6:32 pm

    The dudes are Canadian. Even their lawyers are culturally incapable of what you suggest.

  31. David Schwartz  •  Jun 21, 2012 @7:15 pm

    I thought the rule was that you expose the identity of the lawyer or lawfirm unless they give you the identity of whoever did the marketing for them, in which case you expose their identity. Am I remembering the rule incorrectly or was a special exception deserved in this case?

  32. Ariel  •  Jun 21, 2012 @9:28 pm

    Take it at face value. Let's not go into the realm of hypersensitive, where anything can be taken as an insult. Though I can understand the affront at "reputable firm" and really "warmest regards", an obvious insult rather than a perfunctory ending.

    Long day, eh?

  33. Matti Kurrika  •  Jun 21, 2012 @9:40 pm

    That's just how canadian lawyers write. Regards, warmest regards, sincerly, or some other variation is required. You got a warmest because it was an apology.

  34. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 21, 2012 @10:08 pm

    It's a good policy to ask them to comment. "Joe jobs" are common with email spam, less so with comment spam. If you develop a reputation for making life difficult for spammers, they may start trying to sic you on their enemies. And there are a lot of lawyers who have enemies.

  35. Hobson  •  Jun 21, 2012 @11:19 pm

    Where's the sarcasm? Looks to me like they made a very decent apology to you.

  36. Amer  •  Jun 22, 2012 @12:10 am

    That right there wasn't sarcasm. Just my opinion as a fellow Canadian. That's just how we talk.

  37. ktpick  •  Jun 22, 2012 @5:07 am

    Another fellow Canadian here, and I didn't see any sarcasm either. Not that it's*impossible* for Canadians to be sarcastic of course, but this letter read as pretty genuine and embarrassed to me. I think they were grateful you actually told them, since it's apparently been spammed to a bunch of people and so far only two people have reported it back to them. They also probably checked out your blog, hence the "reputable firm" comment. And "warmest regards" is a pretty common "official" phrase for letters like this. It's not meant to be sarcastic in my opinion.

  38. Patrick  •  Jun 22, 2012 @7:00 am

    Ken – I love your site. I also happen to be Canadian. Ever consider the fact that this guy wants to be as polite as possible to a guy who runs a very popular blog that's publicly calls-out the douchebag actions lawyers and the legal profession? If I were a lawyer and I received an e-mail from you, I think I'd do my best NOT to piss you off (right after I changed my freshly-soiled shorts). I think the note is sincere.

  39. Andro  •  Jun 22, 2012 @8:29 am

    As my learned colleagues have pointed out, excessive politeness in American law papers implies a degree of sarcasm.

  40. Antonin I. Pribetic  •  Jun 22, 2012 @8:36 am

    Canadian lawyers are never sarcastic. Ever. Never ever ever.

  41. Globex Corporation  •  Jun 22, 2012 @9:05 am

    Canadian lawyer here… It's been my experience that we always write letters that are polite in the extreme. If I had a nickel for every time I wrote, "Kindly take note…" or "Please be advised…"

    It's something of a point of professional pride for us up here. In fact, I am often shocked at the tone of letters I receive from American counsel.

  42. Ken  •  Jun 22, 2012 @9:21 am

    It is possible that as a litigator, as an American, and as a snarky blogger, that my sarcasm-detector is turned up too high.

  43. Patrick  •  Jun 22, 2012 @9:44 am

    Ken – I think you just forgot to change the settings on your detector to "Canadian". Honest mistake.

  44. JLA Girl  •  Jun 22, 2012 @1:02 pm

    Another Canuck lawyer here. I agree the response was sincere. We CAN do sarcasm, but we do our best to keep it out of official correspondence. That's what my bulletin board is for — all the letters I want to send but can't.
    I'm actually surprised a Canadian law firm risked the website promotion. I think we have stricter rules about advertising and promotion than you guys do. (We can't actually say we're more awesome than any other lawyer. We just have to hint a lot. Politely.)

  45. Brazen  •  Jun 22, 2012 @1:50 pm

    I didn't detect any note of sarcasm and my radar is pretty fine tuned. As former RCMP, I'm just used to formulating my correspondence that way and have seen that type of politeness quite often from Canadians that sorely lacks from Americans.

  46. Hobson  •  Jun 22, 2012 @2:34 pm

    Now THIS is sarcasm:


    (apologies if the link doesn't come accross right.)

  47. Ara Ararauna  •  Jun 22, 2012 @4:01 pm

    Reputable firm *checks Google AdSense* Oh.

    No, really, I don't get it, call it a "lost in translation" thing, but hey, at least their answer wasn't an automated reply like the one my friend got after filling a ticket to the admins of STEAM using English and got a barely Google-translated auto-reply on Spanish talking about "activity ceasing sharing password reliable not it is" which was way unrelated to his question about his STEAM Store not loading ¯\(°_o)/¯

  48. Peachkins  •  Jun 23, 2012 @3:34 pm

    I just want to say that I truly hope no one has actually been tempted to use a service or hire someone because of comment spam- especially spam that is so horribly written as to make my eyes bleed. Ugh.

  49. andrews  •  Jun 26, 2012 @6:00 am

    they know they need to market online, but doesn't have clue one how to do it

    Even after your reminder, I'm not aware of a need to market online. How does one know if he needs to market online?

  50. Joel Kofsky  •  Jul 29, 2012 @7:16 am

    That's a great to know about how politely reply by you to them but there is no sarcasm in my opinion.

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