Did Findlaw cross the line with blog post?

Eric Turkewitz of New York Personal Injury Law Blog  thinks Findlaw is exploiting the death of a child to advertise legal service.  Read the offending post here on The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog.  His claim is that the blog exploits the victim providing little valuable legal commentary and provides a call to action to contact specific attorneys.

Here’s my devil’s advocates position:

1.  The claim that the post adds little content beyond the local story.  The additional content includes four paragraphs.  Besides the questions the blogger poses which Mr. Turkewitz mocks, the blogger includes a section from a relevant statute and interprets what it says.  While Mr. Turkewitz might find this information banal, the target audience of this blog is ostensibly consumers.  They may not have considered these questions or the relevant code section.  If this information is wrong or misleading, then that’s a different and significant problem but I’m not in any position to assess that.

2.  Call to action.  The blogger simply says, “could discuss the possible personal injury case with a PA personal injury attorney.”  This statement is neither specific to any attorney(s) not is it touting the value of doing so.  The blogger doesn’t say this will “improve your chances of winning in court” by contacting these attorneys.  The link is to the Findlaw legal directory and contains a list of 60 attorneys for a consumer to choose from.  Does the link help Findlaw help drive relevant traffic to these attorneys websites?  Yes.  Is the link advertising the quality of these attorneys?  No.

While I can see that the potential for this activity to exploit the misery of victims, I can also see that the blog post provides valuable information to consumers both about what issues and laws are involved in a hit and run accident.  It also  links  to a directory of attorney websites they can check out for themselves.  I think its over-stating the case to call this exploitation.  For me, if the blogger just linked the hit and run story and then plugged a specific lawyer praising the ability to handle such cases, that would be exploitive.

Mr. Turkewitz ends his post with the following: “The only way for FindLaw’s clients to preserve their reputations appears to be to ship out, because it doesn’t appear that FindLaw will shape up.”

Findlaw is owned by Thomson Reuters which reported revenue of  $11 billion last year and they own Westlaw, West Publishing, Hubbard One and Hildebrandt just to name a few companies in their legal services division.  I would be surprised if Mr. Turkewitz doesn’t pay Thomson Reuters for casebooks or Westlaw and I wonder if he thinks there is a bright line that separates Findlaw from the company that owns and controls Findlaw, the exploiter of dead children ?

Frankly, I am more upset about Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier (owner of Lexis/Nexis) and their control of legal information services and how that chills competition, than I am about this blog post.

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One Response to “Did Findlaw cross the line with blog post?”

  1. Blogs that link accident news articles « Reading Tea Leaves by Randy Wilson Says:

    […] blogged about this issue in earlier this year about a similar blog post.  In both examples the claim was […]

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