Today the attorneys in my firm were spammed with a dozen or so emails from a legal marketing outfit called LegalForce, a fairly generic legal marketing site that purports to list "best lawyers in the United States," with search options for consumers and lawyers, and opportunities to get anonymous and questionable advice in response to ambiguously phrased questions.
The spam emails go like this:
You have been invited by someone you know to vote for Paul Poorjudgment of Jackhole Twitt, LLP, as a Best Lawyer in the Employment / Labor Law category in Los Angeles, CA. The bio of Paul Poorjudgment can be seen by clicking here and is also pasted below.
The objective of the LegalForce Best Lawyers selection process is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of best lawyers that can be used as a resource to assist attorneys and consumers in the search for legal counsel. All nominations and votes are confidential and anonymous.
Click here to submit to vote "YES" for Paul Poorjudgment as a Best Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA.
Click here to leave an Endorsement for Paul Poorjudgment in Los Angeles, CA.
Click here to submit to vote "NO" for Paul Poorjudgment as a Best Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA.
Click here to Nominate yourself as a Best Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA.
Click here to Nominate someone else as a Best Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA.
Click here to browse profiles of other nominated Best Lawyers in Los Angeles, CA across a variety of categories.
Jackhole Twitt LLP
Mr. Poorjudgment is a blah blah blah qualifications schooling blah blah
First of all, I suspect that LegalForce is straight-up lying when it says we have been invited by someone we know to vote. I talked to my lawyers, and we don't know any of these people. We're not sure from whence our names and email addresses have been culled.
Second, what they hell are these lawyers thinking? The more charitable interpretation is that they encountered LegalForce through spam or otherwise, signed up for the Best Lawyer contest, and simply didn't realize that their names would subsequently be used in widespread spam. That's a little foolhardy, but forgivable in the fast-moving world of internet marketing.
But the alternative — that they thought it would be helpful to business development to spam untold numbers of strangers with an invented contest for a manufactured "honor" — suggests they have a very grave deficit of judgment.
Let me make this perfectly clear to LegalForce and to anyone who thinks it would be a good idea to get their name out there through methods like this. My firm refers a substantial amount of business out. But:
- I would never in a million years refer business to an attorney who spammed me through LegalForce.
- If I needed a lawyer with a particularly specialty, I would pick out out of the phone book, or based on a Google search, before I picked one who spammed me through LegalForce.
- If I were forced to work with an attorney who spammed me through LegalForce — as opposing counsel or co-counsel, perhaps — I would view their work with extreme skepticism and remain vigilant for other lapses in good judgment.
Online contests are illusory and mastubatory enough. But spam marketing campaigns to law firms? If a lawyer is participating in one, I know that lawyer either has atrocious judgment or is so desperate for work that he is willing to debase himself an annoy thousands for the chance of getting one case. In other words, these attorneys are apparently content to employ the same business model as the spammers who annoy a million people in order to get $30 from one guy who thinks that someone on the internet can make his dick bigger. That level of probity does not recommend a lawyer.
By the way, Scott Greenfield at the indispensable Simple Justice has been writing a lot of very insightful posts about legal marketing — including the issue of marketeers hosting internet forums in which people can get anonymous and frequently shitty legal advice.
Postscript: Based on my casual reading of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, I think that LegalForce was required to put opt-out options on these emails. They didn't. Perhaps they think they fall under the relationship/transaction exception — if they do, that exception is so broad as to render the whole Act useless. The thing to do, I think, is to find a class action attorney desperate enough to sue LegalForce for violations. Hmmm. Where could I find an attorney like that?
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