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chasing clients

Mallory Musallam had been a plaintiff in a class-action suit seeking minimum wage and overtime against the talk-show host on behalf of former interns. Now she has apologized and withdrawn her name, saying “lawsuit-hungry attorneys” had approached her at “a weak vulnerable time, facing student debt” and talked her into taking part in an action whose exact nature she didn’t recognize. “I cannot apologize enough for this debacle. I do not believe in getting something for nothing — that’s not how I was raised.” Her “now-former lawyer, Lloyd Ambinder, did not return a call for comment.” [N.Y. Daily News]

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Next divorce half off

by Walter Olson on September 2, 2014

DivorceHalfOffYes, this is a real, if tongue-in-cheek, ad by a Georgia lawyer. Via Huffington Post a year ago, though it dates back at least a year longer than that.

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It did come across as curious when the Facebook acquaintance only seemed to be interested in side effects of medications and whether I had suffered death or injury in an accident. What kind of icebreaker is that? Daniel Fisher at Forbes investigates and finds traces of marketing efforts on behalf of the firm of Parker Waichman. Under New York rules for lawyers, law firm advertising is supposed to be clearly marked as such, nor are its contents supposed to be false or misleading.

P.S. From commenter wfjag: “She wanted to know if I’d died or was suffering a lingering fatal condition. Especial interest in effects on The Brain. No pictures of faces and no information on family lives. I thought I’d finally found Zombie Dating.”

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“Law firm apologizes to truckers for ‘serial killer’ ad” [ABA Journal] The San Antonio law firm of Villarreal & Begum had placed the ad in Maxim, but the reaction from truckers was so negative that some sellers yanked the magazine off the stands.

Martha Neil at the ABA Journal reports on a setback for one fast-out-of-the-gate filing over the fate of Flight 370:

“These are the kind of lawsuits that make lawyers look bad—and we already look bad enough,” Robert A. Clifford, one of Chicago’s best-known personal injury lawyers, told the Chicago Tribune earlier, calling Ribbeck’s filing “premature.”

Much more from Eric Turkewitz.

P.S. Representatives of American law firms swarm bereaved families in Peking and Kuala Lumpur, talk of million-dollar awards: “a question of how much and when.” [Edward Wong and Kirk Semple, NY Times]

Another survey of late-night TV lawyer ads, this time by 99 Percent Invisible at Slate “The Eye”, and some, like “We’ll Change Your Pain Into Rain,” previously unseen by us. Audio podcast (21:04) here:

And Above the Law highlights this very…. unusual video by an intellectual property lawyer in Houston:

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Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer Daniel Muessig has set the bar high [Deadspin] More: Scott Greenfield, and yet more about whether criminal defense lawyers really do those things.

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February 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 11, 2014

Super Bowl ads in review

by Walter Olson on February 3, 2014

A Georgia lawyer aired an ad bizarre enough that it’s made the rounds of the legal sites:

More from Lowering the Bar (“As Rolling Stone suggests, it is a little problematic that the ad depicts him desecrating a grave and smashing a grave marker, even if he does it with a flaming sledgehammer named after his dead brother and to a badass metal soundtrack.”)

Meanwhile, over at Cato at Liberty, I’ve got a commentary on the Coca-Cola ad with at least a tangential relation to language law, the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressives, and the gracefulness of being good winners regarding the success of English assimilation.

Close-to-home plaintiffs

by Walter Olson on January 22, 2014

Weirdly, or tellingly? “Weirdly, two of [the New Jersey bridge plaintiffs] work for the attorney who’s representing them” [John Culhane, Slate via Howard Wasserman, Prawfs, earlier]

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The lawsuit, which contends that the politically motivated closure of two bridge lanes from Fort Lee by Christie advisors with resulting traffic jams was a deprivation of “liberty,” was filed by attorney Rosemarie Arnold, who’s run some attention-getting TV ads in the past. [UPI]

P.S. From Widener lawprof John Culhane, a more serious look. “IRB/Human Subjects form from the Chris Christie bridge scandal” (humor, Kieran Healy) And Steve Chapman: “Anytime someone wants to expand some power of government, here’s what you should assume: [Bridget Anne] Kelly and [David] Wildstein will be the ones exercising it.”

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December 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 18, 2013

  • California judge tells three large companies to pay $1 billion to counties under highly novel nuisance theory of lead paint mostly sold long ago [Business Week, The Recorder, Legal NewsLine, IB Times]
  • Coincidence? California given number one “Judicial Hellhole” ranking in U.S. Chamber report, followed by Louisiana, NYC, West Virginia, Illinois’ Metro-East and South Florida [report in PDF; Daniel Fisher/Forbes (& thanks for mention of Overlawyered), Legal NewsLine]
  • Frivolous ethics charge filed by Rep. Louise Slaughter, Common Cause and Alliance for Justice against Judge Diane Sykes over Federalist Society appearance is quickly dismissed [Jonathan Adler]
  • On heels of San Antonio Four: “Texas pair released after serving 21 years for ‘satanic abuse’” [Guardian, Scott Greenfield]
  • White House delayed onerous regulations till after election; Washington Post indignant about the delay, not the regs [WaPo, Thomas Firey/Cato]
  • “GM vs Bankruptcy – How Autoworkers Became More Equal Than Others” [James Sherk, Bloomberg]
  • According to one study, North America’s economically freest state isn’t a state, but a Canadian province [Dan Mitchell]
  • “If you thought it wasn’t possible to lower the bar for lawyer advertising, of all things, you were wrong.” [Lowering the Bar, first and second round]

Shady lawyer character Saul Goodman, played by actor Bob Odenkirk, was so popular with viewers that he’s getting his own prequel [Deadline.com, Guardian, L.A. Times, BuzzFeed] AMC’s joke website is worth a click, but be warned that it auto-plays an audio (which touts, among other things, a two-for-one misdemeanor shoplifting defense).

“Bob Odenkirk, who portrays Breaking Bad’s resident shyster Saul Goodman with gleeful shamelessness…. [sits] down with Vulture’s own Julie Klausner to get his thoughts on some of the country’s best so-bad-they’re-good lawyer ads.” [Vulture]

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Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on August 13, 2013

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A “staff attorney at the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program… was suspended after being accused of accepting fees from law firms while processing their clients’ claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” [Bloomberg] And that’s just the start of what may be much wider problems, according to a cover story by Paul Barrett at Bloomberg Business Week. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” one lawyer wrote in a client-solicitation letter, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.” [Bloomberg Business Week] Barrett’s account tells, in his own words, “how the private-claims process following BP’s (BP) 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill devolved into a plaintiffs’-lawyer feeding frenzy.” [BBW]

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Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on June 10, 2013

  • FBI looks at allegations Dallas DA filed fraud suit as favor to donor [Free Beacon]
  • “Suing ex-client for $500K in divorce fees led to disbarment ruling for former bar president” [Virginia; former "titan" of D.C. matrimonial bar, ABA Journal]
  • “Appeals court cuts ‘unconscionable’ estate legal bill from $44M to perhaps $3M” [ABA Journal on Graubard Miller / Alice Lawrence case, earlier]
  • Empirical puzzler: advent of lawyer advertising doesn’t seem to have had the expected fee-reducing effect [Nora Freeman Engstrom, SSRN via LEF] Law firm marketers were all over the Metro-North crash case [Eric Turkewitz]
  • “DOJ Inspector General’s report: US Attorney unlawfully leaked to discredit critic” [of "Fast and Furious" operation; John Steele]
  • “Lawyer accused of bilking real estate investors through false claims of criminal probes takes plea” [New Jersey; ABA Journal]
  • Claim: disciplinary decisions to reinstate errant lawyers should be more guided by experts [Bruce Green and Jane Moriarity, SSRN via LEF]
  • If you find it hard to believe opponents would gin up flimsy “speech-gave-offense” charges against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones, recall the earlier ginned-up (and now mostly forgotten) charges against distinguished appellate judges Dennis Jacobs and Alex Kozinski.

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May 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 10, 2013

  • Electric-car maker Tesla doesn’t get many kind words from free market types, but here’s one [Coyote] More: North Carolina auto dealer lobby strikes back [News & Observer]
  • One lawyer’s selection of the worst lawyer billboards, though they’re far from the worst we’ve seen [John M. Phillips]
  • House hearings on litigation abuse and on litigation and international competitiveness [Judiciary, more, Point of Law]
  • Ninth Circuit cites conflict of interest, throws out credit reporting class settlement [Trial Insider; Daniel Fisher]
  • Private pensions, market-based water rates and more: “Australian travel notes from a policy wonk” [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “Use elevators properly. Riding outside of cars can be dangerous and deadly” [Scouting NY, seen in Bronx apartment building]
  • “It’s long been my view that blawgs, law blogs, are the greatest peer reviewed content ever created.” [Greenfield]