When a lawyer launches a website, he or she obviously needs content. Search engines scan your page for content, and those with fresh, relevant, and insightful offerings get a bump in the search result rankings.
Where does that content come from? If you're smart, you'll handle it yourself, or have a trusted member of your staff write it. But no matter what, never plagiarize. Not only does Google penalize duplicate content, but the original author will find out. It is a small Internet -- even though it seems otherwise.
And if you, or your staff member, do plagiarize, when you are caught, don't write 2,539 words of physical and legal threats to those who publicize your follies. Own up, move on.
Carl David Ceder
Based on reports, it started in early December, when Scott Greenfield, at Simple Justice, wrote a public-shaming post about a Texas criminal defense lawyer named Carl David Ceder. Greenfield's friend, Dan Hull, was miffed because he wrote 12 Rules of Client Service, a great blog post on client relations, which was reportedly copied, in full and without attribution, onto Ceder's website.
Both Greenfield and Hull attempted to contact Ceder, but heard nothing back until late January, more than a month after the public pillory of a post went live.
Ceder commented on the blog with hilariously-long rants, filled with name-calling (you, you Yankees!), physical and legal threats, and multiple reminders that should Greenfield ever meet Ceder in person, that he better bring a first aid kit. Multiple first aid kits, in fact. And perhaps a friend.
The rants led to an online commenting war, discovery of additional allegedly-plagiarized content, and a Popehatting.
Where there's a bogus libel/defamation/slander threat, there will be Ken White and Popehat. Nothing makes my afternoon quite like a profanity-laced pro-First Amendment rant.
If reading Ceder's original unformatted rants makes your brain hurt, White carefully breaks apart and analyzes his threats, with just the right amount of mockery added. Unsurprisingly, Ceder's case for libel seems pretty weak.
The Worst Kind of SEO
Now let's get practical. Search for Ceder's full name on Google. Thanks to the reputation of plagiarism-free sites like Simple Justice and Popehat, and the original, fresh content in the posts and comments, as of now, Greenfield's post is the first result. Popehat is on the first page as well. Mixed in are results for Ceder's firm and Yelp page.
That's the thing about SEO. Fresh, intelligent commentary beats copy-and-pasting. Had he responded intelligently, with an apology and a my-staff-did-it explanation, there may not have been negative posts clogging up his search results.
Needless to say, good SEO can lead to better (than this) search results, and more potential clients. That is what at least some of lawyer blogging is about.
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