Maybe it has something to do with the lousy economy. I'm spending a lot of blogging energy whacking the moles of unethical lawyer marketing. If we—the bar, honest members of the practical blawgosphere—let people like Andy Nolen and a Fresno criminal defense alwyer slide with their flaming astroturf and their content scraping, we'll only see more such conduct from bad lawyers who are desperate to make a buck in a wretched economy. When I shine Defending People's spotlight-o-truth on lawyers who are, in my view, cheating, I feel a little bit guilty at spending some of the good will I've accumulated over the last two years in doing something that adversely affects some poor schmo who is probably just trying to make a living the only way he knows how. But the feeling passes quickly.
I wrote here that nothing I've seen Andy Nolen do gave me any reason to think that he was smart enough to accept his beating and move on. Well, I suspect I was right: a day or two after that post, someone used the initials "SM" to post a fraudulent review of me to Avvo.com (don't bother looking; Avvo has taken the review down). SM claimed that I had represented him in the last six months; ironically, his "review" was sandwiched between two glowing reviews left by the only client I've had in the last six months with those initials (her case was dismissed, not because of my genius but because an honorable and compassionate prosecutor did the right thing).
False review on Avvo right after I castigate Andy Nolen for false reviews on Yahoo? What a coincidence! I won't republish this one, because, unless whoever left it covered his tracks really well (I know how to do it; does he?), it's going to be the centerpiece of a defamation lawsuit and a grievance.
Lawyers: Outsource your marketing, outsource your ethics. Nonlawyers will offer you lots of easy routes to internet domination; they are not worth it.
The way that clients—at least sophisticated clients, those with money—are going to be making their decisions in the next year is not to search for "_ criminal-defense lawyer" and pick the first result, but rather to get a few names and google them all. In other words, they're not going to take the first lawyer they find when they google "Fresno criminal-defense lawyer" or "Houston criminal-defense lawyer"; rather, they're going to check out Melina Benninghoff and decide based on the results whether to talk to Melina, Google Andy Nolen and decide based on the sites that appear whether to make an appointment with Andy.
The easy route may, according to the rules, be unethical or it may not, but it sure is going to piss off the guys with the million-candlepower spotlights—guys like the Popehatteers, Scott Greenfield, Brian Tannebaum, and Evil Esquire who have ten times the traffic that comes through my little blog. If you've gotten their attention, when your potential clients google your name they're going to see what those bright lights of the blogosphere have to say, and those guys don't pull their punches. If you haven't walked the ethical straight and narrow, it's not going to be pretty.
Don't believe me? Ask Andy Nolen.