Lethal Generosity Revisited

I wrote last November about Lethal Generosity in the Legal Profession, my thesis being “that the most generous members of the criminal defense community are the most credible and influential.”

I was talking then about sharing information and motions amongst criminal-defense lawyers.

But it’s become apparent to me that the principle applies in the online marketing context as well. (Sorry, Scott, we all market ourselves. The questions are: 1) how ethically; 2) how consciously; and 3) how well). The lawyer who is generous with her honest praise of other lawyers is going to get more positive attention than the lawyer who runs down what he perceives to be his competition.

(A digression: John Floyd, Jack Carroll, Don Becker, Tyler Flood, Wayne Hill, Todd Leffler, Dan Corrigan, Doug Durham, Dane and Leslie Johnson, Dennis Slate, Larry Douglas, Dan Gerson, Jeff Purvis, Mekisha Murray, David Breston, Paul B. Kennedy, Joe Salhab, and Cynthia Henley—all of whom Andy Nolen badmouthed for the sake of his own Yahoo rating—are not Andy Nolen’s competition. All of the lawyers I’ve listed try cases; Andy doesn’t. The only area in which Andy could possibly compete with anyone on that laundry list of fine lawyers is price; you get what you pay for. If he thinks he’s competing with them for the same cases, he’s delusional.)

Avvo gives a good example of the value of praise: there, one lawyer can endorse another; he can’t do whatever the opposite of endorsing is. If I endorse you (assuming that I can truthfully do so), it helps you, and it doesn’t cost me anything. In fact, if I endorse you on Avvo, the endorsement is linked to my own Avvo page, so I might get more eyeballs (something not everyone wants) on my own profile.

Similarly, if I link to your blog, with no expectation of a quid pro quo, it doesn’t cost me anything, but it helps you. And if you do decide to reciprocate, or if as a result of my link you find Defending People and discover something worth linking to, I might actually benefit.

I can’t possibly lose from making my colleagues look good. This assumes, of course, that they are good. I can lose by endorsing someone who does a mediocre job. I avoid that, so that my endorsement actually means something.

Be generous, and the world will be generous with you.

Contrast the no-lose results of generous praise to the result that Andy Nolen got by astroturfing: notified of the fraudulent reviews benefiting him, Yahoo has deleted those reviews. So the desired effect will vanish. Further, Google “Andy Nolen” today, and the third result is “Andy Nolen: Total Fraud?“. Why? Because some of the people who write blogs get pissed off by a lazy person who tries to sabotage other people’s reputations instead of building his own, and they write about it. If that’s the kind of result you’re looking for, then by all means cast aspersions on your fellow lawyers.

You’ll give me something to write about.

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0 responses to “Lethal Generosity Revisited”

  1. Well that wasn’t very generous to me. And it’s not quite accurate, since marketing as collateral consequence of activity done without marketing purpose is only marketing as part of a marketer’s self-serving definition. It’t the intent of the actor, not the unintended consequence, that defines conduct. We do not all market.

  2. What is slander?

    A verdict of “guilty” pronounced in the absence of the accused, with closed doors, without defense or appeal, by an interested and prejudiced judge.
    – Joseph Roux

    The worthiest people are the most injured by slander, as is the best fruit which the birds have been pecking at.
    Author: Jonathan Swift

  3. Yup. True for any trade/profession/thing. All sorts of benefits to giving out honest, legit praise — and some of them fall on the bestower. This is a feature, not a bug; virtue need not be punished.

  4. I’ve always thought that the entire defense bar — and, more importantly, its clients — benefits when briefs and other information are generously shared. My ideal workday would end in the style of a Boston Legal or Raising The Bar episode, with attorney friends sitting around sharing war stories and discussing ideas over a drink or three.

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