Posted Jan 10, 2012 12:00 pm CST
The Internet age has produced a new type of business—reputation management companies—and they are helping lawyers and their clients defend their online reputations.
Sometimes lawyers hire the companies to fight negative comments posted by people ranging from ex-clients to ex-spouses, the National Law Journal reports. Bruce Anderson, CEO of Cyber Investigation Services in Tampa, Fla., says his company gets 300 calls a month, many from lawyers. Some call on behalf of clients, but a “reasonable number” are calling because they have been attacked themselves.
Cyber charges $1,000 to $5,000 to search for the IP address of commenters posting defamatory material and helps lawyers draft “John Doe” complaints to get a court order for the removal of defamatory material.
A law firm that helps clients defend their online reputations endorses another tack—the pre-emptive strike. Toward that end, Dozier Internet Law of Richmond, Va., has purchased 3,000 domain names to keep them from being co-opted by the wrong people.
Lawyer John Dozier Jr. tells the NLJ that his firm also operates 100 websites and about a dozen blogs. “All those give indexed results that are positive,” he said. Most recently, Dozier managed to attract online attention for representing an actress who sued because a website revealed her age.
Dozier, who has written a book about online defamation called Google Bomb, says the legal issues can be complicated. “Ninety-nine percent of the attorneys are clueless,” he told the NLJ. “You get into constitutional law issues off the bat, free speech. There are specialized statutes that apply that lawyers never heard of before that have a significant impact on how they might or might not be successful in attacking the problem.”