Lawyers Beware: The World [Wide Web] Is Watching

David Giacalone has a great post at f/k/a that should serve as a reminder to unscrupulous, unethical or merely careless or inept attorneys that even if the Bar can’t – or won’t penalize you for your actions, The World Wide Web Is Watching, nonetheless.  David describes a couple of situations where lawyers’ errors – such as sloppy briefs or failing to adequately research a response to a complaint – are reported in the media and live on long after the matter has faded away.

I certainly don’t have a problem with “e-shaming” as David calls it, if the end result is to disseminate to the public information about an attorney who’s truly a threat to clients.  Thus, it’s ironic that heavily guarded bar proceedings, which might contain information about wrong-doing attorneys are less accessible than web-based news items about, for example, an attorney mishap in the courtroom which may have been nothing more than a one time occurrence or more unfairly, a judge having a bad “err” day.

To the extent that e-shaming can alert other members of the bar or the public at large to truly outrageous conduct by an attorney, I’m all for it.  But I worry that e-shaming can also magnify the impact of a stupid mistake or a momentary lack of judgment and potentially doom an otherwise promising legal career.   As e-shaming grows more pervasive, perhaps we’ll come up with a system to e-lucidate the real e-vils from the silly errors that simply make us real lawyers, not bad actors.