Social Networking Websites

This is a post about the internet, and yes, it’s about small law firms.

You’re still in the race to page one of Google. Nothing is more important. It’s tiring. Your marketeer tells you that blogging is king. You don’t have time to blog, you need clients now — you aren’t interested in waiting for some client to think you had something interesting to say in your blog, and in turn, call your office, or some lawyer to read what you wrote and refer you a case.

Not a problem, says the marketeer. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as your website is linked throughout the posts, like this:

Recently, this Craptown family lawyer read about a father being held in contempt for failing to pay child support. This case was not in Craptown and did not involve a Craptown family lawyer. As a Craptown family lawyer, it is important that anyone in Craptown who has a problem with Craptown family law call a Craptown family lawyer. It is unclear whether the father sought the services of a Craptown family lawyer, but contempt is a bad thing and is a reason to seek out a Craptown family lawyer. So for those of you fathers that are broke, it may be time to call a Craptown family lawyer.

These blogs all suck, say nothing, and exist only based on the marketeer’s promise of clients finding you via Google and dropping off a pile of cash at your office. The authors are very very very proud of their prose, as the marketeers cheer on their attempts to game Google. “Hey man, that last post was great, you had 27 links to your website.”

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the vast amounts of Biglaw associates who read every single word of this column under duress every single week while waiting for their next assignment, but for those small firm and solo practitioners, I have a question: Does it work?

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This guy deserves way more than $10.

A good chunk of America was Googling “class action” this weekend thanks to Facebook. Millions of the site’s users received an email in the last few days with the subject “Re: LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION.” Those that didn’t immediately delete it as spam discovered they’re entitled to up to $10 from the social networking giant for putting them in “Sponsored Story” ads. That’s when Facebook takes something you Liked or a link you posted and uses it in an ad aimed at your friends. (So, word to the wise, never ever post a link on Facebook to a 55-gallon gallon drum of sex lube.)

Fraley v. Facebook, the class action lawsuit that could make a bunch of Facebook users a little richer and a bunch of class action lawyers (led by Robert Arns) a lot richer, was filed in California in 2011 by an enterprising group of plaintiffs led by seamstress Angel Fraley, shortly after “Sponsored Stories” launched. They claimed the company had violated the law by using their names and likenesses in ads without their permission and without paying them. (Lead plaintiff Fraley later dropped out of the suit citing Facebook lawyers’ aggressive tactics, which basically consisted of digging up embarrassing material about her from her profile page.)

Facebook and the plaintiffs settled the suit in December to the tune of $20 million. That $20 million is covering the class action lawyers’ fees ($7.5 million plus expenses), with the rest either being divvied up among approximately 125 million presumably-aggrieved Facebook users who appeared in Sponsored Stories ads, or, if the demand is too great, divided by a bunch of non-profits that work on privacy issues. If the amount of money divided by the number of claimants comes out to less than $4.99 each, the money goes to the non-profits, who surely must be in the midst of planning a major “Rock The Claim” campaign. Unfortunately, I can’t help out.

Continue reading at Forbes….

* The latest bombshell in the Chevron / Ecuador litigation: an ex-judge cops to participation in a bribery scheme. [Fortune]

* I wish this “defense” of posting one’s law school grades on Facebook were more full-throated and “in your face.” [Virginia Law Weekly]

* I suspect Professor Stephen Bainbridge is in the minority here. Most of my law professor friends enjoy all-expenses-paid trips to the Cayman Islands. [Professor Bainbridge]

Elie Mystal, or Somali pirate?

* Professor Glenn Reynolds: “As the GOP looks for issues it can win on, how about lowering the drinking age?” I’ll raise a glass to that. [Instapundit]

* Ahoy, mateys! Did the Supreme Court grant cert in that piracy case out of the Fourth Circuit? [FindLaw]

* Not all liberals hate guns. [New York Times]

After the jump, the dashing and handsome Ryan Chenevert — Cosmo’s reigning Bachelor of the Year, and a Louisiana lawyer — offers his thoughts on dating….

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Orly Taitz

* Twitter ordered to out anti-Semitic users by a French court. France wants to know the names of the anti-Semites so they can surrender to them. [Thomson Reuters News & Insights]

* How are you feeling, Vermont Law School? Right now, you don’t look so good. [Constitutional Daily]

* Now you too can see why AIG decided to not sue the government that bailed them out. [Dealbreaker]

* Seems like these Catholic hospitals aren’t so strident about when life begins when there’s a malpractice lawsuit on the line. [Raw Story]

* Though, according to some Republicans, fetuses might still be evidence — evidence that rape victims should not be allowed to “tamper” with (what a wonderful little party the GOP has going there). [Gawker]

* Orly Taitz: Still Bats**t crazy. [Huffington Post]

* The Maryland State Police have to turn over racial profiling complaints to the NAACP. Man, wouldn’t that have made a good season of The Wire? “The Staties.” Carcetti would be Governor. McNulty would be getting away from it all by tending bar in the D.C. area, only to get sucked back in when he passes a state trooper arresting Bubs for driving while black through Takoma Park. [Baltimore Sun]

* The revised transcript from the day Justice Thomas spoke during oral arguments has arrived, and it seems his record for not having asked a single question from the bench is still intact. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The Seventh Circuit ruled on Indiana’s social media ban for sex offenders, and the internet’s filth will be pleased to know they can tweet about underage girls to their heart’s content. [National Law Journal]

* Propaganda from the dean of a state law school: lawyers from private schools are forcing taxpayers to bear the brunt of their higher debt loads with higher fees associated with their services. [Spokesman-Review]

* Rhode Island is now the only state in New England where same-sex couples can’t get married, but that may change as soon as the state Senate gets its act together, sooo… we may be waiting a while. [New York Times]

* It’ll be hard to document every suit filed against Lance Armstrong, but this one was amusing. Now people want their money back after buying his autobiography because they say it’s a work of fiction. [Bloomberg]

In a way, I’m surprised we don’t have more stories about people posting their grades on social media sites. The kids are already using Facebook and Twitter as a running diary of their lives, so you’d expect there to be more instances where people throw their law school transcripts up on the internet.

In fact, let me ask the question this way: why wouldn’t you post your grades on Facebook? They’re clearly important to you. If you did well, you can brag about them just as surely as one of your friends is bragging about the exploits of their kids or dogs. If you did poorly, you can seek the solace of friends who you don’t actually like well enough to have a beer with. Why wouldn’t you post them?

The obvious answers seem painfully old-timey. “It’s in poor taste to brag about your grades.” “Your transcript should be private.” “You got an ‘A’? Go f**k yourself.” These are the thoughts of a previous generation. For the Facebook generation… I mean, have you seen what people post? This is nothing.

A law student decided to post his solid grades on Facebook. I bet you can guess what school we’re talking about. Let’s just say that it’s a school that seems to admit students who like to draw attention to themselves when things are going well by subtly upturning their collars….

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One of the biggest obstacles job seekers face is coming across as just another name on just another résumé. The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history.

ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers — effectively giving job seekers an edge over the competition by allowing them to “meet” employers before other candidates.

ViewYou videos are a professional, powerful way to introduce yourself to employers and supplement your résumé. In your video, you can answer interview questions, describe your past work experience, demonstrate language skills, include footage of mock trial competitions, or explain your desire to work in a particular field or location. By including the videos alongside your résumé, writing samples, and other application materials, ViewYou allows you to promote your personal brand using one convenient platform.

ViewYou also allows as much privacy or accessibility as users want: make certain segments of your profile publicly available to share with friends and family, or include private links to employers on your résumé or cover letter. Unlike a traditional, non-professional social network, friends can’t post inappropriate comments, your current employer can’t see your activity, and strangers can’t view or comment on your videos.

In this challenging job market, making a personal connection with employers can be the key that sets a candidate apart from the competition, and ViewYou is a powerful tool that allows law students and lawyers to do just that. Check it out today.

ViewYou Offer for Above the Law Readers [ViewYou]

Instagram is adding a monetization filter to its precious photo-sharing service. In a change to its privacy policy that has everyone in my Twitter feed freaking out, Instagram has given itself the right to lease users’ names, likenesses, and photos out to advertisers. That means the Kelvin-filtered photo of your polished finger nails might wind up being used by the responsible salon; or that the craft cocktail bar where you Hefe-filtered your Chewbacca Jacuzzi may throw it into an ad; or that the vintage market where you Walden-filtered that top-hat-wearing boar’s head might pay to promote it.

The change comes on the heels of corporate owner Facebook giving itself the right to dip into the data Instagram has on its users, which means Instagram’s photos will start being fed into Facebook’s well-oiled advertising platform.

“Dear @instagram @facebook – You have the right to run your business as you choose. But screw you,” tweeted one privacy advocate.

Here are the offending terms of the new Instagram terms of use:

[Y]ou hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service…

In other words, Instagram recognizes that it shouldn’t screw over users who have private accounts by using their photos in ads aimed at the general public (though they can put them in ads aimed at your friends).

But will Instagram screw over its users anyway?

Continue reading at Forbes….

Last week, Netflix announced that it received a Wells notice from the SEC. Apparently, while the SEC was cruising Facebook (what else is there to do while neglecting to investigate Wall Street?), someone noticed Netflix CEO Reed Hastings posting that Netflix had surpassed one billion hours of streaming old episodes of Facts of Life to shut ins.

The SEC staff thinks Hastings disclosed material information in this Facebook post, possibly violating Reg FD, the 2000 regulation that put a stop to companies giving an advantage to small subsets of investors by disclosing material information between blowing rails of coke off strippers.

But Facebook isn’t a seedy strip club full of free drugs and prostitutes (read: Christian Mingle). Reed Hastings has over 200,000 “fans,” many of whom are analysts and reporters. In pursuing enforcement without exercising a little discretion, the SEC ignores these facts.

Netflix is arguing that the disclosure was not material and that most investors knew that the CEO’s Facebook page is recognized as an avenue for public disclosure.

Regardless of the specific resolution of this matter, this is one more reminder that the SEC is woefully behind when it comes to adapting to technological developments. Like, oh I don’t know, HFT perhaps?

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Bryan Garner

How old is “bench slap”? Should I put it in Black’s Law Dictionary? How would you define it?

– Legal writing guru Bryan Garner, editor of Black’s Law Dictionary and co-author (with Justice Scalia) of Reading Law (affiliate links), asking on Twitter about a possible addition to Black’s.

(Information about the origins of “benchslap,” after the jump.)

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