Looking for an interesting legal niche? Daniel Balsam found his long before he went to law school. In 2002, Balsam was working as a marketer and became frustrated with the spam emails he constantly received.
So did he complain to his friends? Write letters to his senator? Switch to Gmail? No, instead, Balsam started a website called Danhatesspam.com, went to law school, got his law degree and now sues spammers for a living.
"What started just as kicks turned into a hobby, which turned into a career," Balsam told The Associated Press. "I feel like I'm doing a little bit of good cleaning up the Internet."
In California, sending fraudulent or misleading commercial information in the subject line of emails is illegal, as are emails that don't offer a proper opt-out.
Balsam has successfully sued dozens of companies for violating the law, making him into an anti-spam superhero. Balsam has sued email spammers to stop internet spam in jurisdictions ranging from San Francisco Superior Court small claims court to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Of course his opponents say Balsam is "unfairly exploiting anti-spam sentiments and laws." They say he files lawsuits against out-of-state companies knowing that they will settle rather than hire counsel to fight the claims. "There is nothing wrong per se with being an anti-spam crusader," said Bennet Kelley, a defense lawyer that has fought Balsam on a number of cases. "But Dan abuses the processes by using small claims court."
Whether you agree with Balsam's suits against email spammers or not, one thing is for certain. It's working for Balsam, and he has no plans of slowing down.
- Man Quits Job, Makes Living Suing E-Mail Spammers (The Associated Press)
- The CAN-SPAM Act: Trying to Protect Consumers From Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail (FindLaw)
- Down With Spam! (FindLaw's Technologist)