Blistering Law Firm Reviews From Non-Clients Aren’t Libelous – 7th Circuit
What’s on the docket this week:
- Featured Story – Blistering Law Firm Reviews From Non-Clients Aren’t Libelous – 7th Circuit
- 🗄 IP/Transactional – The Current Patent Landscape of Autonomous Vehicles
- 🤺 Litigation – Lawyer Jailed Over Tax Shelters Must Pay $536 Million After Losing Appeal
- 📲 Legaltech – Predatory Terms of Service Prompts Creation of New ‘TLDR’ Bill
- 🔪 Criminal/Politics – Do the Legal Rules Governing the Confidentiality of Cyber Incident Response Undermine Cybersecurity?
- 💰 Finance/Econ/Regulatory – The Bill That Congress Might Be Embarrassed Enough to Pass
- ⚖️ Ethics – Don’t Get Drunk, Lie to The Police, and Try and Weasel Out Of It by Texting The DA
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Featured Story: Blistering Law Firm Reviews From Non-Clients Aren’t Libelous – 7th Circuit
Online reviews are something you just have to deal with as a lawyer. Some are good, some are bad. And sometimes you’ll get crazy people who threaten to destroy your firm, ruin your reputation, & cover you with bar complaints. But, I digress.
A few years ago, a lawyer began to receive negative reviews from people who had never been his clients.The lawyer was upset at the situation, but shouldn’t have been surprised as the reviews were in response to his own Facebook posts:
“Did Trump put Ukraine on the travel ban list?! We just cannot find a cleaning lady!”
“My business with Ukrainians will be done when they stop declaring bankruptcies. If this offends your national pride, I suggest you look for underlying causes of why 9 out of 10 cleaning ladies we’ve had were Ukrainian and 9 out of 10 of my law school professors were not. Until then, if you don’t have a recommendation for a cleaning lady, feel free to take your comments somewhere else.”
The 7th Circuit had little trouble concluding that the reviewers were expressing opinions in response to the lawyer’s “insults to Ukrainians.”
As always, measure twice, cut once before you post something online.
The Current Patent Landscape of Autonomous Vehicles
The U.S. patent publications have grown exponentially, and the considerable opportunity that the development of autonomous vehicles present is a key factor driving this growth. Innovation is crucial to the development of autonomous vehicles, and patents play an important role in encouraging creative activity. Although the transition to self-driving cars will be a gradual process, autonomous vehicles involve many technologies, where different search terms can capture different patent publications, so companies need to ensure that they have the proper protections to avoid unwanted patent litigation.
Lawyer Jailed Over Tax Shelters Must Pay $536 Million After Losing Appeal
Former law partner, Paul Daugerdas, was convicted in one of the largest U.S. criminal tax fraud cases in history after losing his bid to vacate $535.7 million in financial penalties against him. Daugerdas filed a petition arguing that the financial penalties be dropped since they were declared four years after his conviction. The lack of urgency raised by Daugerdas prompted the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to reject his appeal, citing that Daugerdas “procedurally defaulted” by not raising these concerns earlier.
Predatory Terms of Service Prompts Creation of New ‘TLDR’ Bill
Most terms of service agreements often use length to obscure bad behavior or quietly erode consumer rights. The creation of the new ‘TLDR’ bill would instruct the FTC to require websites to offer a synopsis of obnoxiously long and predatory terms of service that nobody actually reads. This summary statement would cover the legal requirements in terms that normal humans could understand. With data breaches on the rise in recent years, this new bill would also require a website to disclose any major data breaches that have occurred in the last three years. The bill is seen with good intentions by providing users with more transparency about how their data are collected and controlled, but really only addresses the surface level issue.
Do the Legal Rules Governing the Confidentiality of Cyber Incident Response Undermine Cybersecurity?
When businesses fall victim to a cybersecurity breach, they are increasingly turning to lawyers to act as “breach coaches”. Attorneys directing cybersecurity investigations is becoming a widely accepted approach, and it’s often explicitly recommended that a company turn to an independent law firm first before going to the insurer. This trend is driven predominantly by a lawyer’s capacity to shield any information that is produced during the process from discovery to a subsequent lawsuit. It is hard to determine the appropriate solution for every situation, but lawyers taking a leading role is the current preference for many companies.
The Bill That Congress Might Be Embarrassed Enough to Pass
In 2012, lawmakers passed the STOCK Act, to ban members of Congress from using information they learned on the job for personal financial benefit. Although the law helped the public spot conflicts of interest, it didn’t prevent them. A prime example of this was back in 2020 when several senators dumped their stocks when the seriousness of Covid was still considered proprietary information. Despite the Justice Department’s inability to file charges, the investigation spurred a bill proposal that requires members of Congress, their spouses, and dependent children to either sell their individual stocks or place them in a blind trust. This is a step in the right direction, but may not solve the underlying ethical issues needed to properly regulate stock trading by lawmakers.
Don’t Get Drunk, Lie to The Police, and Try and Weasel Out Of It by Texting The DA
Discipline: The case is pending before the Supreme Court, but recommended discipline is six month suspension. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Until next week, adjourned.
p.s. – please send me your stories, news, & tips for inclusion in future editions [email protected]
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