There are a lot of angry job hunters in the legal marketplace right now, thanks to lots of debt and little in the way of prospects. They’re desperate, frustrated, and may be dangerous. The Great Recession has turned some of these poor legal puppies into Cujos.
In May, we wrote about a heated exchange between a Massachusetts law student and a potential lawyerly employer. The lawyer, Rose Clayton, had hesitations about hiring the law student as a paralegal and offered to hire him on a trial basis. When he objected, demanding a full-time offer instead, she laid out exactly what he had done wrong. That set him off and the conversation deteriorated into an exchange of unconstructive criticism. The law student, Jesse Clark, ended with this:
It’s amazing that the Ma Bar lets women practice law. Shouldn’t you be home cleaning and raising children? As for your practice, its just Bankruptcy. It’s not difficult, and many Petitioners file pro bono and get discharges.
Clayton posted the exchange online, redacting the student’s name, and Massachusetts Law Weekly picked up on it. And then we picked up on it. Jesse Clark responded on his blog and thus shed the cloak of anonymity.
Noah Schaffer at the Massachusetts Law Weekly’s Docket identified Clark in a second story, which led Clark to create a nude modeling profile for Schaffer.
After corresponding with Clark, my photo and phone number found their way into a Craigslist casual encounters ad. I deflated quite a few, um, hearts when I let the many callers know that it was a prank.
Then all was quiet on the digital terrorism front for over a month. Until this week. Rose Clayton became the victim of a nasty new prank…
On Monday, Shilling Me Softly got an “anonymous” email from a “tipster” bringing a new website to his attention. We’re not linking, as we don’t want to improve its Google page ranking, but you can click to enlarge the image:
Classy. The site uses photos from Rose Clayton’s law firm site. The Photoshopping and typos are all original work.
Shilling Me Softly suggested that the creator of the site could spend a little bit more of his law school time studying Massachusetts defamation law. We contacted Clayton for her response:
I am not sure what I am going to do about it. I have reached out to some attorneys here in Mass and have gotten a few suggestions. I may hire someone with experience to represent me. Honestly, I am more afraid that he is going to come after me personally (I look over my shoulder every day when I walk out the door). I really do think he is not there and where he is convinced that I brought him down, I do not know what he will do.
We asked if she had thought about pressing charges, as this seems to fit the bill when it comes to criminal harassment.
I have. I called the local police yesterday to talk to someone and they were going to send someone by the office today to talk a little more about any criminal options. I am told there is now a restraining order for people that are not in a relationship.
It’s been a learning experience for Clayton. She learned that there have to be three incidents in order to pursue stalking or criminal harassment claims. In the meantime, she’s protecting herself with a tougher skin:
My skin has gotten much thicker over the past few months. When the first story broke, it was so hard to deal with. I am this little wimp who sits in my office and spends my day helping people (it sounds cliché I know, but it really is my life). I didn’t have an enemy in the world. Other than being called fat when I was a kid, I had never been insulted before either. That Friday when all of the comments were made, I sat in my office reading them and crying. So, the first time around was tough, but it did get easier when he kept talking. Now, it is just sad, bordering on scary. Hopefully, this website will be the end of it from him. He had been crank calling my office, that seems to have stopped.
Be careful out there, legal employers.
And job hunters, please don’t let a bad interview lead you to potentially criminal actions that could torpedo your entire career. The Internetz make it easier to wreak revenge on those who piss you off. But you must resist the siren call of the easy cyber-prank. If tempted, take a deep breath, take your hands off your keyboard, and back slowly away from your computer.
Using Craigslist to crowdsource revenge [True/Slant]
Breaking News: Anonymous Tipster Reveals Jesse J. Clark’s Defamatory Website [Shilling Me Softly]
Job Application Gone Very, Very Awry [Massachusetts Law Weekly]