Why is LegalX.net Spamming Me? (Ethical Issues with Attorney Search Sites) – Updated
LegalX.net is one of the gazillion attorney search sites that seem to float about the web. You pay them a fee, and they add you to their directory while they try to hustle clients. Many of them seem to me to have questionable ethics. But this one, LegalX, has been trying to spam the comments of my blog like crazy over the last couple weeks. And it appears they are doing it to others.
Now I’m used to getting comment spam from various companies hustling gold, drugs and knickknacks of all sorts. And even on occasion from lawyers. But I’ve never been hit with this kind of persistence from a law firm or lawyer search company.
This is interesting on two different levels. First, attorneys that pay these marketers have entered into, what appears to me, an agency relationship. And their agents are sending out spam. But the attorneys are likely responsible for the acts of their agents. So the hundreds of law firms that LegalX appears to have taken money from are now associated with one of the most insidious practices of the web. Due to ethics rules that exist in some places for attorney marketing, ethics and lawyering go hand-in-hand. So when a firm outsources its marketing, it also outsources its ethics.
Second, I think that there is very little that is actually gained by the spam. There is no link juice, since comments on blogs are routinely set as “do not follow” so that Google doesn’t give them any link love. Their pagerank doesn’t benefit from the practice.
And some of the posts are one to two years old. This same drivel below, for example, was presented for comment in one of the Dr. Flea posts as well as one on the Million Dollar Advocates Forum:
It is essentially important for human beings to follow laws and orders without which a man can be brutal enough harm others. It can be easily mentioned that law plays a vital role in arranging the mob in a systematic manner. So, one should never fail to follow laws of any kind, concerning anything.
It also appears to have been spammed hundreds of times on other attorney blogs, which you can discover if you Google the first part.
Awhile back, I switched over from having open comments to moderated comments that need to be approved. I didn’t want to do that, but it was the only way to keep the spam out.
In sum, LegalX appears to be engaging in a widespread spam campaign. When it comes to blogs, it’s hard to think of more reprehensible conduct from a company.
Who is LegalX that has persuaded so many law firms to turn over their cold hard cash to them? Great question. Glad you asked. And I wish I had a good answer. Its website gives a Canadian address, 7018 14th Avenue, Burnaby, British Columbia, but no names. Some further searching finds that it was for sale in October 2008 by an anonymous individual located in Los Angeles under the pseudonym “fargreater.” Fargreater says that:
all seo optimization done by widecircles.com the advanced optimizers
Whether the site was sold to someone else that is doing the spamming, or it remains in this person’s hands, I don’t know. But it was also for sale (either still or again) just a month ago by someone named “Johnfa.”
I also checked out the “blog” that is on the site. I put that in quotes because the one post I read, entitled “Medical Malpractice Happens,” was in large part an unattributed rip-off (/MedMalHappens-LegalX.pdf) of this post by Patrick Malone at The Huffington Post.
Now cutting to the chase, who would want to hire a lawyer that has a mysterious company spamming for them? And yet, hundreds of law firms appear to be listed at their site. Most are likely to be unwitting dupes, though some may simply be turning a blind eye to the conduct. Either way, is that the type of lawyer someone would want? (Assuming that these lawyers have, in fact, paid to be listed on this site. Their advertising page says it is $349-489/year for a listing.)
If I were a stockbroker, I would not only mark this stock “avoid,” but also the lawyers that paid them any money.
[Note: LegalX.net is the spamming lawyer site. But there is also a LegalX.com, which is a litigation outsource support firm with a Los Angeles phone number. While both seem to have an L.A. contact, I do not presume they are related.]
Update 12/22/09: In early December I received email from someone identifying himself as “Richard Cohen,” claiming that his “organization” outsourced SEO and content writing to some other company and apologized for the spam. He never named the alleged outside company, and provided no address for himself and no means of verifying anything what he wrote.
He (if it is a “he”) also demanded that I take down the LegalX logo. I refused, based on fair use and the First Amendment. He threatened me with a DMCA take-down notice. I told him to Google “Turkewitz Avis” and to be careful of the considerable downside of filing a DMCA take-down notice without a legitimate basis for doing so.
I think any lawyer that outsources its marketing to such a company is a fool, due to the risks of outsourcing marketing (and ethics) to others.
It’s also worth noting that shortly after this email exchange took place at the beginning of December, comments started to appear on this post. There had been none from the time it was first posted on June 24, 2009 until December 7, 2009.
Links to this post:
Denver Motorcycle Lawyer Comment
I received the following comment in my inbox on Monday morning: I was just made aware that if the person who hit you is under-insured, you may be able to use your own motorcycle insurance or even your car insurance for compensation. …posted by @ October 22, 2009 2:59 PM
comment spam — from law firms
as eric turkewitz notes, “when a firm outsources its marketing, it also outsources its ethics.” tags: chasing clients, legal blogs. related posts. march 25 roundup (2); youtube lawyer ads (3); willie gary marketing tactics (2) …posted by Walter Olson @ June 25, 2009 10:26 AM