Appealing to someone's ego is profitable. Lawyers of Distinction names many, many lawyers to its "distinction" list every year. Some people believe this actually means something. But it doesn't, as Kelsey Butchcoe explained late last year in a post for marketing blog Mockingbird. A lawyer getting a letter from Lawyers of Distinction announcing their selection to the vaunted "top 10%" is, in reality, getting nothing more than unsolicited marketing materials.
Following up with Lawyers of Distinction provides curious attorneys the opportunity to spend $425-775 annually to obtain plaques, "crystals," and backlinks to their law firm websites from LoD. Following up further, as Butchcoe did, also uncovers the fact Lawyers of Distinction's prestigious awards emanate from a UPS Store in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This post did not make Lawyers of Distinction happy. The "in-house counsel" of Lawyers of Distinction, "Jesse Brodsky ESQ," fired off an emailed cease-and-desist to Conrad Saam of Mockingbird, demanding Saam do some impossible things -- like take the threat seriously and remove the post "from the internet." The email is embedded below, but we'll quote it in full here because:
A. It's really short B. It's really dumb C. It closes with a threat ensuring the body of the email will never be taken seriously.
It has been brought to our attention that you published an article titled "When the Top 10% Means Nothing." In this article, you include which is defamatory toward Lawyers of Distinction, Inc.
Your article is actionable and we will be initiating lawsuits against the author individually, as well as Mockingbird Marketing if this post is not immediately removed from the internet. Your post is rife with false and misleading information regarding Lawyers of Distinction, Inc.
For instance, you refer to our offices as being in a strip shopping center, when in fact we have a corporate office in a traditional office building. This is merely a small example of your intent to knowingly publish false and defamatory information, which is meant to harm Lawyers of Distinction's reputation and economic well being, at the same time trying to create a pecuniary gain for your marketing company.
If this article is not removed from the internet on or before the close of business on October 10th, 2017, we shall file a lawsuit seeking appropriate actual, compensatory and punitive damages. You have been warned and placed on notice. Every day of delay in removing this article will increase the damages we shall be seeking. Please govern yourself accordingly.
Conrad Saam has broken down the best parts of the C&D at Mockingbird, not the least of which is the demand the post be "removed from the internet," as though that were a thing people could actually do. I'm sure Brodsky ESQ meant "delete it from the Mockingbird website" but that just doesn't sound as (vaguely) threatening (and completely unenforceable) as "delete it from the internet." Combine that with "govern yourself accordingly," and you have some poorly-written fluff blustering about noisily in hopes of being mistaken for saber-rattling.
Saam has not removed the offending post from Mockingbird nor the internet beyond. Equally unsurprising, Brodsky and his strip mall law office have not filed any lawsuits over the supposedly defamatory post. Saam did reach out for some legal advice before posting the C&D, asking Florida lawyer Brian Tannebaum if he should be concerned about this lawsuit threat.
Here's what Tannenbaum suggested Saam be worried about in the context of this angry email from Lawyers of Distinction's in-mall counsel:
If I were you, the thing I’d be worried about right now is what you are going to eat for breakfast. After that I’d start concerning myself with lunch and then plans for the weekend. I’d put worrying about what you wrote right below whether you are soon to run out of toothpaste.
Being threatened by a lawyer who speaks for an entity that sells plaques to narcissists is low on the list of things to be worried about. There's nothing remotely actionable in the post targeted by the C&D. Nor is there anything actionable is Saam's follow-up posts, which provide more details about LoD's inner workings, as well as successful attempts to get a chicken and a dog recognized as "Lawyers of Distinction." (This is not the first dog to receive top lawyerly accolades from Lawyers of Distinction.)
Anyone receiving unsolicited emails from LoD should immediately flag them as spam, because that's all they really are. Or, if so inclined, an attorney could imagine it to be something flattering, and plaster his website with as many meaningless accolades as possible, as this Cincinnati lawyer has. Searching for "lawyers of distinction" reveals a great many lawyers have chosen to republish LoD's meaningless announcements, press releases, and supposed "top 10%" designations. This doesn't prove Lawyers of Distinction is legitimate. All it proves is appealing to egos is guaranteed to separate fools from their money.
Lawyers of Distinction certainly seems like an easy way for lawyers to waste their money. It will apparently allow almost anyone (or anything) to claim membership in the "top 10%" of lawyers stratosphere -- and it will autobill recipients $425-775 annually should anyone desire some overpriced memorabilia commemorating the time they got suckered on the internet. The "top 10%" designation means nothing, except to those willing to part with a chunk of their money and reputation. The problem is unsuspecting people looking for representation might believe this "award" -- bought and paid for by an attorney -- actually signifies better-than-average lawyering. Those are the people taken in by "services" like these. Those paying for plaques are only victims of their own hubris.