Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Jan 20, 2012 02:33 pm CST
On Jan. 19, 2011, when An ethics subcommittee of the North Carolina State Bar was deciding whether a lawyer in the state could ethically offer a Groupon deal, Craig Redler talked to the ABA Journal about his 2010 Groupon offer of a will and durable power of attorney for $99 (which he cleared with Missouri ethics regulators ahead of time).
On Jan. 19, 2012, Debra Bruce posted her own interview with Redler at Solo Practice University about how, a year later, he felt about his decision to offer a Groupon. Would he do it all again?
Probably not, Redler told Bruce. Not because he lost money, or because the Groupon clients were any less desirable than his clients paying full price. He has even gotten repeat business and referrals from his Groupon clients. But, Bruce wrote: “He just wouldn’t want to experience all the brouhaha from the legal community again. Besides the flurry of activity from new clients, Redler’s office was inundated with about 150 phone calls and emails from lawyers wanting to know how it worked. On top of that, some of the online commentary was not very charitable towards him. (Lawyers, please don’t contact him as a result of this post. He doesn’t have time for responding.)”
Redler also told Bruce that his bottom line wasn’t his first thought when he offered the $99 Groupon for a package he generally charges $750 for. “I didn’t even think in terms of ‘loss leader’ when I decided to do a Groupon deal. I love Groupons and wanted to be part of it. I use them personally.”
At Verdict, University of Washington School of Law professor Anita Ramasastry takes note of a new app: If I Die, which allows a user to create a video or write any number of status updates that will display on his or her Facebook page once three user-appointed “trustees” confirm the user’s death.
If I Die already has more than 4,000 likes on Facebook, so presumably some people have uploaded their parting thoughts. “Yet using that app is far from enough,” she wrote. “There are some basic things that we all should do: identify and put someone in charge of our online accounts, should we die; tell that person what we want to have done with the accounts; and compile a list of our account passwords for that person.”
Ramasastry also notes that Facebook allows its users to “memorialize” a dead loved one’s profile so that it no longer shows up in search results or receives friend requests. And loved ones, if they can show proof of death, can delete a deceased friend’s Facebook profile.
At Lowering the Bar, San Francisco lawyer Kevin Underhill takes note of a trend he finds disturbing: that the TSA is trying to “policify” its screeners. “TSA screeners are not ‘officers;’ they have no law enforcement authority except for a relative few who have gone through a separate training program,” Underhill wrote.
But perhaps the TSA would like you to think that they are the law. “Originally, they were officially called ‘screeners’ and wore white shirts, but they have gradually been upgraded to ‘Transportation Security Officers,’ blue shirts, and metal badges,” Underhill wrote. “According to the TSA itself, this change was made ‘to represent the continuing evolution of the officers’ roles and responsibilities,’ which seems like a concession that the agency deliberately made this change in order to make its fake officers seem more like real ones.”
But Underhill isn’t the only one who’s not amused. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has proposed the “Stop TSA’s Reach in Policy Act” (the STRIP Act) in Congress, which would prevent any TSA employee who has not gone through the separate training program from being called an officer or wearing a badge and uniform that resembles that of an officer. The bill is sitting in committee, Underhill wrote.
In 2008, Milwaukee plaintiffs personal injury lawyer Jeff Zarzynski posted a “bully lawyer” TV commercial on YouTube. The premise is that as a child, Zarzynski was the kid who would “shake down” the other kids for their homework and lunch money; today, “he’s putting those skills to use … as a personal injury attorney successfully shaking down the big insurance companies to help clients like you.”
The video has caught the attention of the law bloggers this week, none of whom have anything nice to say about the lawyer whose law firm URL is bullylawyer.com.
From Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites: “I don’t understand why lawyers think denigrating themselves and the profession is an effective marketing tool.”
“Note to Zarzynski,” Eric Turkewitz wrote at New York Personal Injury Law Blog. “A shakedown is ‘extortion of money, as by blackmail.’ I think I’ve got a fair sense of humor, but your attempt at comedy fails spectacularly. You tell people that you demand things you are not entitled to. Jurors will not be amused. Nor for that matter, will the vast majority of ethical and hardworking professionals you manage to tarnish by association.”
At Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield wrote: “My guess is that Zarzynski would argue that it’s meant to be funny. My guess is that it will appeal to a simplistic and cynical portion of the population, who thinks that this reflects the type of lawyer they want, one who will get them money without regard to anything else, because this is the concept of the system what lawyer advertising tends to foster.”
The “bully lawyer” ad was the first in a series of two humorous ads; the second is dubbed the “chicken wing” ad.