Law Firm Struggles with Unfavorable Web Review

A Dallas firm is suing an anonymous individual who posted a negative online review of the firm on Google Review. The lawsuit filed last month in Austin state district court seeks $50,000 in damages against “Ben Doe” for describing The Lenahan Law Firm like this: “Bad experience with this firm. Don’t trust the fake reviews here.”

Most lawyers probably have experienced at least some negative comments about their work, but the ubiquity of the Internet has forced lawyers to confront the unfortunate reality that poor online reviews may now live on forever, popping up on Google and other search engines every time a potential client does a word search for the firm.  Indeed, The Lenahan Law Firm partner Wes Black was quoted as saying the firm is far more interested in getting the post removed than extracting $50,000 from the defendant.

But is litigation the right approach?  Some social media consultants are saying the firm made the wrong move by filing the lawsuit, particularly since news stories and blog posts like this one may only further exacerbate the initial problem by calling attention to something that few readers would otherwise notice. A quick online search for the terms “Dallas law firm online review” tends to prove the point since it produces multiple listings about The Lenahan Law Firm’s predicament. 

It may well be that anonymous negative descriptions of law firms – and other businesses and people, for that matter – are so easy to post that they will soon become a relatively insignificant Internet background noise to which no one pays much attention, much like the urban myths, conspiracy theories and other malarkey that most people take with a grain of salt. 

Until then, though, you can bet that many lawyers will be watching this case to see what happens.

Posted: 1/26/2012 12:09:09 PM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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