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Who Needs a Lawsuit for Excess Fees When You've Got the Internet?

If your lawyer overcharges you, why stop at a lawsuit, as these clients did?  As this recent story from the Buffalo Business Journal points out, the Internet offers clients another avenue of relief... and one that's likely to be far, far more costly for lawyers than a lawsuit.

As the article describes, Daniel Elia, a former disgruntled client of Buffalo based law firm, Damon & Morey has created a website,, to broadcast Elia's complaints about the firm's alleged misconduct, such as charging unreasonable fees and failing to disclose a conflict of interest when the firm represented Elia and one of his creditors in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy case. 
Elia explains that this type of conduct "is not good for the integrity of the legal system."  However, according to a firm representative, the conflict of issue allegations and fee issues were litigated in multiple courts, including the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which found that any conflict of interest was "minimal" and that the fees charged by the firm were reasonable.

Used to be that conventional wisdom counseled lawyers not to initiate collection actions against clients on the chance that they might file a retaliatory malpractice action.  But in the Internet age, a malpractice action may very well be the least of a law firm's concern.  Firms can fight and win a malpractice action in court.  But how do firms protect themselves against clients who air their grievances in the e-court of public opinion?

What is your firm doing to guard its reputation online?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 6, 2007 at 05:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


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