A legal challenge to Google search results garners more sympathy in Europe than it would in the U.S.
A cutting-edge legal complaint in Europe over internet reputation could force Google to rethink how it handles individuals’ control over the search results for their names.
Spanish plastic surgeon Hugo Guidotti Russo wanted Google to liposuction from his results a 1991 news article about a patient angry about an allegedly botched breast surgery. The article from El País, about a breast surgery that led a female patient to accuse Russo of malpractice, has the translated headline, “The risk of wanting to be slim.” Russo was later cleared of wrongdoing in the surgery, but the article, which doesn’t mention his acquittal, shows up on Russo’s first page of results. Google, as is its policy, refused to scrub it.
The case is one of over 80 in Spain in which the country’s privacy regulator, the Agency for Data Protection, has ordered Google to intervene and delete links from search results because they are out of date or contain inaccurate information. The agency summed up the conflict with a public advisory on its website in January: “Google Trial. The right to forget meets the freedom of information.” The “right to be forgotten” is not one found in the American Bill of Rights, but it’s becoming a popular one in Europe in the digital age, even if it does sound like the most depressing right ever.
Many large law firms forbid their lawyers from visiting social-media sites at work. Some have actual software blocks, preventing sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn from loading on firm computers. Other firms tacitly discourage visiting these sites, since six minutes wasted on them are six minutes that could have been billed.
Small firms are less likely to have these policies or blocking programs, mainly because small firms are less likely to have any policies. Or IT departments.
This is partly a generational issue. On the one hand, you’ve got the Millennials, who are used to having IM chats, Pandora songs, and Facebook walls running in the background while they bash away at Lexis or Microsoft Word. On the other hand, you have more-senior (or just plain “senior”) lawyers, for whom the Interwebs are something to either be feared or restricted to off-duty hours.
Generationally, I’m somewhere in between. I’m 43, placing me at the early end of Generation X. Millennials make me feel old. When I started hiring twenty-something lawyers, I found their IM chats in the background jarring. But I quickly learned that this had no impact on their ability to get work done. They were far more able to multitask than I was, and it seemed silly to make a rule about social-media sites.
Also, a facility with social media comes in handy in a litigation practice. For example, several years ago, a client of ours fired an employee for taking unauthorized time off. The young female professional sought a leave in December to have some elective surgery — to wit, breast implants. (Note for law students: The phrase “to wit” must never be used unironically. And if you ever find yourself writing “to wit: a shod foot,” you need to leave the practice of law immediately.)
The young woman’s employer didn’t seem to a have a fundamental problem with her getting … enhanced. The problem was the timing. The holiday season was their busiest time of year, and they couldn’t afford to lose her then. But she went and did it anyway, and they fired her for the unauthorized leave.
* A Russian man is accused of posing as an immigration lawyer and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from fellow countrymen. Police say they knew he was lying when he began doing bizarre, and ridiculously obvious, things with Oreos. [Sun-Sentinel]
* You know how I know President Obama’s latest nominee to the S.D.N.Y, J. Paul Oetken, is gay? Because this article says so. Bonus: Lat quotes! [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]
* “Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is treating her baby’s dad like a bottom feeder.” [New York Post]
* Allen “The Ponz” Stanford was found incompetent to stand trial. Aaaaaayyyyyy *thumbs* [Reuters]
* Before the rampage, Jared Lee Loughner performed internet searches on famous assassins, the death penalty, solitary confinement, and law firm bonuses. I think that’s right. [New York Times]
Payback may be a bitch, but she rarely moves so swiftly. As we just mentioned in Fame Brief, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is fielding more allegations about his sexual preferences today, after former girlfriend Lillian McEwen made some “explosive” statements to the Washington Post about her time with the Supreme Court justice.
I put “explosive” in scare quotes, because really all we’re learning from McEwen is that Justice Thomas likes (or liked, she dated him a long time ago) boobs and porn. Is that really such a big deal? Hey, quick question: Would you rather be reading this article about Clarence Thomas and Lillian McEwen right now, or doing something that involved boobs and porn? I know what my answer is. But like most of you, apparently watching boobs and porn is “FROWNED UPON in this ESTABLISHMENT.”
But does enjoying (sorry, allegedly enjoying) the mystifying undulations of the opposite sex make Clarence Thomas unfit to sit on the high court?
There are a couple of interesting employment discrimination suits floating around the blogosphere today. One is continuing on behalf of a dead, obese woman. The other involves leaky breasts. Sound like fun?
The claim that is being pursued by the estate of a dead woman is slightly more newsworthy because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking the position that a worker for a non-profit was fired because she had a disability. According to the EEOC — in my head, the EEOC sounds like Jame Gumb (a.k.a. Buffalo Bill) — Lisa Harrison was fired for being a great big fat girl.
Harrison died after filing the suit, but it is being carried on by her estate.
We’ve talked before about how fat people are on the fast track to protected class status. Protected class status is one thing, but are we sure we want to call fat people disabled?
You may have noticed that people working in Big Law are more pissed off than usual lately. And I can’t say that I blame them. The threat of associate layoffs still looms large. A six-figure salary barely keeps you off food stamps. White shoe firms are crawling with bed bugs. And herpes. But it looks like there’s a new kid on the block — a pair of kids, actually — gaining traction as the latest target for Big Law acrimony, at least if the state of affairs in and around my firm is any indication: Boobs. Or more to the point, how front and center they should be when it comes to dressing for work.
Now, arguments over appropriate sartorial choices for the workplace, breast-related or otherwise, are nothing new. Panels have been convened over them. Entire websites have been launched about them. Lawsuits have been waged because of them. But when the argument focuses on the degree of exposure — or lack thereof — of female breasts in the workplace, especially in a legal workplace, that’s when tempers really start to get out of control.
I can tell you’re already starting to get a little hot under the collar, aren’t you? OK, look, let’s all just calm down, take a deep breath, and take a tour of some photographic evidence….
If you’re like most people who have an important drug test coming up — say, for a new law firm job or for probation (kind of the same thing) — you probably prepare by doing things such as guzzling water, sucking pennies, or ladling your roommate’s urine into a pocket flask.
A somewhat less effective way to prepare involves going on a cocaine and amphetamine binge hours before your drug test and hoping for the best. But that didn’t stop Lindsay Lohan from trying last week:
Lindsay Lohan’s probation has been revoked and a bench warrant issued for her arrest…. Although the bench warrant was issued, it’s being held — i.e., on hold — until Friday at 8:30 AM, when Lindsay is ordered to appear in court.
The move by Judge Elden Fox comes after Lindsay failed two drug tests recently … one showed the presence of cocaine and another showed amphetamines.
Under the terms of her probation, Lindsay could get 60 days for her latest misstep, and the bench warrant comes just weeks after Lindsay completed a 14-day jail stint and 23 days in UCLA’s in-patient celebrity-enabling sanctuary rehab for another parole violation.
As an occasional taxpayer (albeit in a different state), I’m annoyed California has to waste precious time and resources monitoring and jailing Lindsay, when they could be doing something useful, like banning Jay Leno. As a lawyer, I’m itching to blame someone or something(s) for her downward spiral, and I have found the proximate clause: her boobs.
This was the only full body photo of Shelly Sindland available in all of internet-land.
A year ago, we brought attention to the sexual harassment claims of Shelly Sindland. Sindland was a local television reporter in Connecticut who claimed she was discriminated against by Fox 61 News due to her age and gender. Here are some of the highlights from the complaint:
* On or about January 30, 2009, during a meeting with reporters and anchors, on information and belief, [News Director Bob Rockstroh] stated that the Friday newscasts looked like “Big Boob Fridays,” and that as a result of at least one female reporter wearing a tighter shirts on Fridays, the station’s ratings did well on Fridays. On information and belief, [General Manager Rich Graziano] was present and stated “hey, whatever works.”
* On or about February 25, 2009 the respondent held a photo shoot for several of its news anchors to be used in promotional pieces. During this shoot, on information and belief, the female anchors were told to be more “sexy.” On information and belief, male anchors were not instructed to be sexy.
We’ve seen a lot of sexual harassment suits that either get thrown out quickly, or quickly settle. Since Sindland was suing a news organization, you had to figure that if there was any merit to Sindland’s claims, Fox 61 would pay and make the issue go away.
Yet here we are, over a year later, and Sindland’s claims just keep chugging along…
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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