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Watch What You Say at a Conference -- It Might Wind Up on YouTube

I'm sure you've been to a conference at one point or another where a speaker has given inside tips on how to legally skirt a process if the recommended approach doesn't seem entirely ethical. Now one law firm, Cohen & Grigsby, has discovered the hard way that dispensing this type of "lawyerly" advice on how to get around the law can land you in hot water online.

As this article and accompanying YouTube video describe, Cohen & Grigsby's grew out of what seemed like a clever marketing idea at the time. The firm apparently posted a video of a conference at which a C&G attorney gave advice on how companies that want to hire foreign workers on H-1B visas could meet the government's labor certification requirement. By way of background, in order for a company to hire foreign workers, it must certify that there are no qualified U.S. workers. So, the C&G attorneys advised companies to advertise open positions in places that would generate a less desirable applicant pool -- such as on Monster.com or at job fairs -- to meet certification requirements. As the C&G attorney summed up, the ultimate objective of this is "to not find a qualified U.S. worker" -- but rather, to get a green card for a foreign worker.

C&G's advice didn't sit well with the Programmers Guild, an organization of IT professionals trying to keep jobs within the United States. The guild put together it's own video, excerpting parts of the C&G video and commenting that the ads posted by many U.S. companies "constitute fraud on job seekers." C&G has since taken its conference video down, though the Programmers Guild video remains up on YouTube.

So, if you're a law firm, give some thought to the kind of advice that you decide to put on the Internet and how it may be perceived by others. Many lawyers fear that a sites like Avvo or Lawyerratingz.com may tarnish their reputations. But as C&G's recent incident shows, ultimately, the biggest threat to your online reputation are your own actions.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 19, 2007 at 06:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

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