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Law Firms One-Up Each Other Behind the Scenes Through Wiki Edits

Biglaw firms may seem genteel and respectful of each other on the surface. But behind the scenes, they're secretly trying to one-up each other. Concurring Opinions breaks the story in this post, A Slow Day at the Office:  Lawyers Editing on Wikipedia

As Hoffman describes, he discovered a new tool, Wikiskanner, which lists wiki edits from various organizations. Using this new "toy," Hoffman did a little sleuthing and claims he discovered that a bunch of large law firms had used Wikipedia to "burnish their reputations and trash their competitors." (Visit Hoffman's post for direct links to the edits.)

Eric Turkewitz picks up on Hoffman's report in this post at New York Personal Injury Law Blog to question Wachtell Lipton's veracity. According to Turkewitz, back in March, Wachtell Lipton boasted that "it doesn't engage in advertising or marketing." Yet Wachtell Lipton was one of the firms "outed" by Hoffman for editing its Wikipedia profile, which prompted Turkewitz to ask, "Doesn't editing your profile on Wikipedia to improve your image qualify as marketing?"

After reading Hoffman's post, I'm curious about the ethics of law firms editing each other's profiles. On the one hand, Wikipedia, by its very nature, invites and encourages edits; there's nothing unlawful about a firm changing a Wikipedia entry (by contrast, hacking into another law firm's Web site to change the content or redirect traffic to one's own site would violate the law). And law firms always have the ability to change their profiles, so any damage isn't permanent. At the same time, there's something unseemly and underhanded about a law firm secretly editing a competitor's profile to make the firm look bad. I'm sure if solo practitioners engaged in this conduct, the bar would investigate. I wonder whether the bar will have any reaction here. Ethics experts: Do you have any opinion on this one?

Related links:  Above the Law.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 20, 2007 at 03:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)


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