Monday, May 13, 2013

Lawyers, Don't Hire Spammers to Promote Your Law Firms

I understand that some lawyers, probably many or most, simply don't know any better - somebody calls them up promising to generate more traffic to their website. The well-practiced sales pitch makes it sound like a good deal, and then... stuff like this starts getting posted around the Internet under the name of the lawyer or the law firm:

It sounds as if you could possibly have a case but it may be a close one. I think it would be worth your time to go and talk to a professional lawyer in Washington State. Be sure to bring all important documents including your medical papers and perhaps an over view from your current doctor that did find the tumor explaining the situation. Hope this helped and good luck.
Do you think you have a case? The Law Offices of John P****s may be able to help you!
That wasn't the worst example I've seen - just the latest to hit one of my forums. The trick that particular spammer used was to try to paraphrase prior comments (which may be from non-lawyers) in order to try to create something that sounds reasonable.

Usually, the company you hired is either based in or subcontracts with another company in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, or elsewhere in the developing world and pays somebody in that nation with middling English skills to push your link out to forums and blogs. (That particular spammer was working out of the United States, so the lawyer probably paid a premium for the website promotion services.) I'm sure they will subsequently hand you a nice list, perhaps with pretty charts, showing how many links they generated for your site. What they won't tell you is that most of those links will have little to no value for your website and, in some cases, the rapid volume of new, similar links on sites that allow user-generated conduct will trigger a penalty for your site.

But it's worse than that. You're a lawyer. You have ethical duties that govern your advertising - and make no mistake about it, this is advertising. No, you weren't told that a worker in an overseas phone bank would be posting messages that appear to be from you or from your law firm, but that doesn't mean you're not responsible for their actions. You didn't exercise due diligence when hiring your website promotion firm, you didn't adequately supervise their work, and they could be out there posting wildly incorrect information or giving wildly incorrect advice under your name.

Recall also, you probably have a duty to maintain a copy of all of those posts in your records for a specific period of time in order to comply with the advertising rules for your state.

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