FindLaw — How Low Can They Go? (Stealing Blog Names)


I thought I was done blogging for the week, but I just learned that FindLaw, another one of those “venerable” names in the legal biz, has swiped my blog name. I kid you not.

They’ve created The New York Personal Injury Law Blog (all links here coded as “NoFollow”). The person that allegedly writes it, “Emily Grube,” doesn’t even show up in the New York directory of attorneys when I checked. She also writes the Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog, The New York Criminal Law Blog, and who knows how many others that are in start-up phase.

And, surprise, surprise, when you read the “articles” that are written they have a link at the bottom with the “call to action” to contact one of the lawyers that pay FindLaw to promote and advertise for them. As it happens, I know many of those on that list, and some are friends of mine. And you can bet your last dollar that I will let them know what FindLaw is up to, and they can decide for themselves if this is the type of conduct that they approve of.

How pathetic is FindLaw, anyway? Last year they were busted for selling links on their editorial content. Two weeks ago Scott Greenfield danced all over them for using the names of local criminal defense attorneys in their spammy solicitation to him.

Of course, one may try to say that my blog name is merely descriptive. But after three years of blogging and, I think, a fair amount of recognition across the legal blogosphere, it has taken on a distinctiveness all its own. I thought about sending them a note to alert them of my site. But then I realized that if they didn’t already know about my site, then they were really just too pathetic to believe. I mean, what lawyer would start up a blog without checking to see if the name was being used?

Find Law, which is owned by Thomson West, is an agent for the attorneys that pay them money for promotion. I suspect that these good folks just assumed that Find Law would act in ethical, proper ways and not try to sell links or steal blog names. But this is what their agent has been up to. Do law firms really want to be associated with a company that acts in such a swarmy way?

FindLaw, I’d like you to meet Martindale-Hubbell, both of whom seem not-too-far removed from LegalX and a bazillion other sites hustling their way across the web without seeming to care about their reputations.

They’ve ripped off my name now. Is yours next?

(Hat tip to John Hochefelder who found the “blog” and let me know)

Links to this post:

Call this “Notice”  
Mitchell Sassower is doing it. Marc J. Chase is doing it. Myron Kahn is doing it. Many others are doing it too, but those three are at the top of the list. What are they doing? They’re funding FindLaw’s crappy little rip-off (all above

posted by Mark Bennett @ January 06, 2010 2:50 PM
 
Due Diligence in Naming Your New Blog  
Findlaw vs. NY Personal Injury Law Blog: The Opening Salvo. Interrupting our Headway vs. Thesis Cage Match for just a moment, I wanted to share some thoughts prompted by the following tweet from BlawgWhisperer, the ABA Journal’s web
posted by Sheryl @ December 27, 2009 10:56 AM

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  • Comments 2009.12.28 at 15:46 | Quote

    Eric,

    It doesn’t surprise me. More companies like this are scrounging for attorney marketing dollars and appear to have no problem copying another attorney’s successful blog.

    I too, came across this situation when another attorney handling medical malpractice and personal injury cases here in New York did the exact same thing that Findlaw did with your site: They copied the exact title and had almost an identical URL. How convenient.

    When I contacted the offending attorney, he claimed to have no idea what I was talking about. Right. Just like Findlaw has no idea what they did.

    You are right to shed light on this to let other attorneys know what is happening.

    In my case, the offending attorney ultimately realized that, my blog which had been in existence for over five years compared to his blog which been up for two weeks, it did not make sense for him to fight. He finally, after many phone calls and letters, agreed to change the title and the URL.

    Hopefully this blog post will make its way to Findlaw and they’ll get the idea.

    Gerry
    # posted by Blogger Gerry Oginski : December 23, 2009 12:47 PM


    Readers –

    Let FindLaw know what you think about this (I did) here. It’s a generic webform, so be sure to name the offending so-called blog.

    The author, Emily Grube, may be nothing more than a freelance for-hire writer, further supporting the conclusion that FindLaw’s offering in NOT a blog, but merely a search engine attractant for FindLaw’s advertising lawyers.

    If the author Grube is one in the same with the freelance technical writer, San Jose State English BA recipient, children’s book reviewer Grube, a possible email address for her is here.

    As I said in my contact submission to FindLaw, this is despicable. Shameful.
    # posted by Blogger Roy A. Mura : December 23, 2009 2:38 PM


    Roy:

    If this is the same Emily Grube, then this is a bigger story than I first thought. I figured their legal blogger was at least admitted to practice law someplace, even if not in New York.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : December 23, 2009 3:37 PM


    Roy:

    If this is the same Emily Grube, then this is a bigger story than I first thought. I figured their legal blogger was at least admitted to practice law someplace, even if not in New York.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : December 23, 2009 3:37 PM


    This is unbelievable. I know Eric for close to 20 years, he is a very hard working and respected attorney, who actually tries and wins medical malpractice cases. Eric is passionate about and spends time (probably too much time) and effort to publish this blog. To the benefit of both the lay person and the legal community.
    For someone who may not even be admitted to practice in the state to take over this blog is unconscionable. People, we had a Rolls Royce and the corporate folk have issued us a Yugo, wanting us to believe it is the same thing. Shame on Find Law
    According to the NYS Office of Court Administration website (http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/attorney/AttorneySearch) , there is no listing for an attorney by the name of Emily Grube. Not to Demean Mrs. Grube, but what qualifies her to write on this subject and topic? Does she have 20 years of NY courtroom experience? What about trial verdicts and settlements? Eric does and his passion for the law is revealed in his writing.
    If you read this blog-please complain to findlaw about their actions.
    Charles Gershbaum, Esq.
    New York, New York
    # posted by Blogger Charles : December 23, 2009 4:20 PM


    You’re spot on Eric. FindLaw and Martindale willing to get down in the gutter with the low life of the Internet legal marketing schemers. They’re driven by the lethal combination of greed and stupidity.

    It’s sad that lawyers continue to be fooled by these companies.
    # posted by Blogger Kevin OKeefe : December 23, 2009 6:41 PM


    West and Lexis should both be ashamed of themselves.

    As attorneys, we have had to put up with them for years and they seem be really be getting desperate thanks to the arrival of the Internet and legal research sites like FastCase.

    Also all of these crazy attorney marketing Internet schemes are just getting out of control! Avvo is just the latest.

    Anyway, you have a great blog and I think you are doing all attorneys a great service by exposing these scams.

    Also, Emily Grube should be exposed.

    That’s how I see it from here in Fresno!
    # posted by Blogger Cranky : December 23, 2009 7:03 PM


    They could go lower and they probably are. These companies trade by grabbing intellectual property rights, and now that they’re losing some grip on the traditional research sources, they are looking for new targets. Think they haven’t considered and perhaps are already taking steps to assume intellectual property rights over “New York Personal Injury Blog”? Or am I just being paranoid?
    # posted by Blogger Mark Melickian : December 23, 2009 8:41 PM


    I would like to address a few of these complaints and hopefully, this is truly an open forum, my comments will be posted.

    First, Findlaw was never selling links. It was a mix up caused by two employee’s misrepresentation of a product and once it was addressed, Findlaw’s rankings were restored to a page rank of 7. Two employees made a mistake and the competition wants to jump on them. You can’t judge a company by two employees. Actually, they are now a page rank of 8. Bottom line is that everyone that knows a little about SEO, knows that off site optimization is vital for your websites success.

    Second, it’s no surprise seeing Kevin O’Keefe knocking on his competition. He continues to bash his competition and acts like his product is the perfect solution for attorneys. Attorneys should consider the source before making a decision. He’s a salesman just like those at Lexis and Findlaw, he’s just really good at throwing barbs. Just because we use name drops when selling and create state wide practice area specific blogs, does not put us in the gutter.

    Third, in regards to the Findlaw rep mentioning the other attorneys he works with. Seriously, you have an issue with that? It’s no different than having representative cases on your website. I sometimes feel that Findlaw gets most of the blame because their clients always seem to show up high organically.

    Fourth, maybe you should contact Findlaw instead of jumping the gun. Have you seen this blog?
    http://www.newyorkinjurycasesblog.com
    You have a great blog but it’s not an original name. It’s your state name with the word personal injury. Are you saying that no one in NY is able to have a blog about Personal Injury? It’s PI law, there are only so many things you can call it. I think if you approached Findlaw, you would be surprised on how accommodating they would be.

    BTW here’s an example in TX:
    http://www.texasappellatelawyerblog.com Justia
    http://www.texasappellatelawblog.com this is a newer one from Lexblog
    # posted by Blogger tom : December 23, 2009 9:59 PM


    Hey, I’m on Turk’s side… but lets not throw stones at Ms. Grube. She is just someone hired to do a job. She did it to the best of her ability. It may have sucked, but that’s not her fault. Its findlaw’s fault.
    # posted by OpenID randazza : December 23, 2009 11:16 PM


    Tom, if you are suggesting that my blog (http://texasappellatelawblog) is newer than the other one you reference, then you are mistaken. I put up my first post there on January 1, 2007 (see http://www.texasappellatelawblog.com/2007/01/articles/technology/launch/).
    # posted by Blogger D. Todd Smith : December 24, 2009 10:30 AM


    Todd I just was just showing a situation where two different attorneys had the same blog focus with very similar URL’s. I do prefer your blog over his, fresher content and more appealing design.
    # posted by Blogger tom : December 24, 2009 11:24 AM


    Sorry for the multiple posts but I forgot to address one more issue. I saw a few attorneys were upset that Emily Grube wrote articles on the Findlaw blog. Anyone can write articles for a blog even a legal one. If you notice Eric’s blog, he states that his is an attorneys blog. Therefore people reading his blog could reasonably expect that all content is written by an attorney. The Findlaw blog is just a general blog about Personal Injury Law. The great thing about living in the United States is that we have the freedom of speech. You don’t have to be an attorney to add something valuable to injury law. This is not an issue at all in the eyes of the search engines and the court of public opinion. The non attorney writers actually do quite a bit of research before publishing their posts. Attorneys usually are far too busy to consistently write their own blog posts. That is why they hire companies to write for them because they see the value of having a blog. Blogs are very effective tools in marketing, they are not the only part but they are a vital one.
    # posted by Blogger tom : December 24, 2009 11:36 AM


    Findlaw misrepresented the sale of its links to me as well. I learned too late, but this Minnesota lawyer refuses to pay their bill.

    Thanks to everyone for exposing Findlaw’s unscrupulous behavior.
    # posted by Blogger Chuck Ramsay : December 24, 2009 2:53 PM


    Tom:

    You sound like you work for FindLaw. Why not identify yourself?

    Bottom line is that everyone that knows a little about SEO, knows that off site optimization is vital for your websites success.

    So the ends justifies the means? FindLaw thinks it’s OK to create as much crap as it wants so long as it helps in the almighty Google Juice department? You do know that such a tactic can misfire badly and destroy a brand, don’t you?

    Second, it’s no surprise seeing Kevin O’Keefe knocking on his competition. He continues to bash his competition….

    Perhaps they deserve bashing? You think MH’s comment spam is OK? You think FindLaw creating crap content is OK?

    Shooting the messenger might be a time-honored tradition, but it isn’t effective. At least not around here where I call people on it.

    Fourth, maybe you should contact Findlaw instead of jumping the gun. Have you seen this blog?
    http://www.newyorkinjurycasesblog.com

    Not only have I seen it, but if you look at the hat tip at end of my post you will see that Hochfelder, who writes the blog, tipped me off as to what FindLaw was doing. What you might not know is that he established himself with that name before the blog was started.

    And, unlike FindLaw. Hochfelder doesn’t create crap.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : December 27, 2009 10:53 AM


    As I wrote on my blog about this today, Findlaw isn’t staffed by idiots. They’re fairly web-savvy, if a little full of “tricks” for my taste. In short: to claim this was an innocent mistake is just disingenuous – or at the very least way more generous with the benefit of the doubt than is warranted. Were this a newly-shingled solo? Yeah, I’d probably be willing to call it an honest (if somewhat lazy) mistake.

    But this is Findlaw. They of the whole “buy our ‘services’ for the SEO juice it gives you!” spiel. (I got that spiel myself once upon a time, ate the nice lunch, thanked the nice rep, considered it for about a day, and then passed.)

    I don’t share the outrage at a nonlawyer writing about legal issues (if that’s indeed what’s happening). But c’mon, as Eric noted, it’s not hard to parse out potential names for a new blog.

    Eric’s blog has been up sufficiently long – and earned enough gravitas and respect – that it ought to be safe from this crap. It’s a shame it wasn’t.

    Eric, my question is this: How far are you willing to go to protest this? Seems like you have some significant support here.
    # posted by Anonymous Sheryl Sisk : December 27, 2009 3:54 PM


    Tom –

    I think if you approached Findlaw, you would be surprised on how accommodating they would be.

    I’ve got to believe that Eric notified FindLaw of the name encroachment last week. And yet Emily Grube still posts.

    Anyone can write articles for a blog even a legal one.

    Calling it a “law blog” is blatantly inaccurate and misleading. It’s a news article aggregator that is designed to do nothing more than attract search engines and redirect readers to FindLaw attorneys.

    The Findlaw blog is just a general blog about Personal Injury Law [sic].

    Really? Because Emily Grube knows and cares so much about personal injury law that she can’t help but [we]blog about it? Where’s the comment functionality? The links to outside sources and other non-FindLaw blogs? Information regarding the author? Is Grube not interested enough to hear what readers who happen to be suckered to the site think? What happened to that “great thing about living in the United States is that we have the freedom of speech” thing?

    I’d like to see what FindLaw has said internally or in sales materials about the purpose of this and the other Grube-authored, so-called blogs.

    The non attorney [sic] writers actually do quite a bit of research before publishing their posts. Attorneys usually are far too busy to consistently write their own blog posts. That is why they hire companies to write for them because they see the value of having a blog.

    And you know this how? Please. Can you honestly say that writing things like “[t]he personal injury case will depend on the results of the investigation and the testimony of the witnesses” and “[i]f you have suffered a personal injury, but the guilty person is now deceased, contact a New York injury attorney. A lawyer can tell you if you would be able to sue his estate. It is never too late for justice: not even in death” takes quite a bit of research?

    So whom is Emily Grube writing for?
    # posted by Blogger Roy A. Mura : December 28, 2009 2:56 PM


    I’ve got to believe that Eric notified FindLaw of the name encroachment last week.

    I thought about doing that, but didn’t. Obviously they knew who I was. They only had to Google the name of the blog they wanted to use.

    If they didn’t do that, they are dumb as rocks.

    And I don’t believe they are dumb as rocks; they simply want to game Google as much as they can by larding sites with keywords.

    In the process, they make their clients and legitimate writers all look like crap. FindLaw obviously doesn’t care about producing quality content, and they have diminished the writings of their regular authors and their clients by putting this stuff out.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : December 28, 2009 3:20 PM


    It’s PI law, there are only so many things you can call it.

    How about:
    –Grube’s New York Personal Injury Review?
    –Personal Injury Law by Grube
    –Grube on NY Personal Injury Law
    – Grube’s Blog on NY Personal Injury
    –FindLaw’s ShitBlog on NY Personal Injury

    OK, there are about a million other permutations. But the idea that there “are only so many things” you can call it is utter rubbish.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : December 28, 2009 3:46 PM

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