Many months ago, I experienced great success searching for input from the CraigsList Pets Forum regarding Bark Softening for my dogs. Recently I was dismayed to discover that I am faced with a minor legal issue that could turn into major money (quelle surprise). I decided to try out the CraigsList legal forum -- both to confirm that my potential attorney fees were realistic for such a minor problem, as well as to get other opinions on my legal conundrum. I presumed the CraigsList Legal Forum would be read by mostly lawyers who -- either seeking new business or interested in debating legal issues -- might respond as the Pet Forum people did: With professionalism and respect for my stated motives.
Briefly, I outlined my problem, mentioned the legal fees estimated for a procedure that – while it does not necessarily require an attorney -- I thought prudent.
I received some very good advice. However, many opinions were conflicting. (Interesting for me to note that “simple” laws frequently are not clear even to attorneys.) I got many questions, too. I presumed these were attempts to provide the most accurate advice. I extend many thanks to those who provided logical, sane advice, even if some of them contradicted each other.
I also recognized many "scare" tactics. And a surprising number of respondents, jumped to erroneous conclusions, presuming a lawsuit was already in process (which I never said), and few who literally screamed at me to hire an attorney immediately, or I might lose my youngest child and my right arm (Ok, I am exaggerating, here...just to be accurate since I am putting this in writing.)
Meanwhile, one of the presumed lawyers using the handle “beek” decided to investigate my CraigsList Forum "profile." I had only used a CraigsList forum that one time before, many months ago. I forgot about filling out a profile, nor was I aware the default setting for such forum profiles was "public.” This would not have disturbed me, as I was not ashamed of my inquiry, and my profession long ago made me a public personality, although I hardly regard my public information as particularly fascinating or remotely scandalous.
However, never did I ever consider in my wildest dreams (for some the word “nightmares” would be more appropriate) that a member of this professional legal forum would react as they did.
Suddenly the discussion became a personal attack -- my hair, my looks, my background, my presumed income, and most of all, my stupidity at presuming they would not feel compelled to publish and promote my web site and, therefore my, identity within the forum. I mean, if someone is interested, and wants to look up my profile, I have no shame with the information about me that is on the Internet. But publishing my identity in a legal forum where I had gone for some discrete legal advice? Was this a case of cyber-bullying? Should not the members of this forum set higher standards for the participants?
To recap the series of comments: "beek" felt compelled to publish the following: "Here is a pic and bio of the OP (me, the inquiring person): http://www.walnut28.com/walnut28_about.html. This is the Web site for my consulting business.
When I responded to "beek" my surprise that he/she felt compelled to do such a thing, and I didn't necessarily think it appropriate, "beek" responded: "So why post your personal information on here if you didn't want to be identified? Your profile leads directly to your identity."
I did not have time to reply to beek before someone with the handle "ElHoofadora" pronounced that my photo demonstrated a terminal case of "split ends" and a "brassy hair color" that was really horrifying and offensive. Another agreed and suggested my "hair colorist be keelhauled" just on general principle.
I suggested that such personal attacks were neither professional nor appropriate for this forum, and might be construed as cyber-bullying. And, since the LEGAL issue of cyber-bullying, along with many other CraigsList controversies might be something that participants in a legal forum might avoid lest a person with thinner skin react in such a way as to cause CL to terminate this otherwise valuable forum.
Then "beek" came back once again, aggressively blaming ME for his/her decision to "publish" my identity, my Web site and my photo.
Then -- most shocking and outrageous of all -- "beek" added this: "How can you afford all the equestrian activities (very expensive) but not a cheap attorney at $225 per hour?" I don't know about you, but I was truly shocked. First of all, no good lawyer would presume that all equestrians are rich. And, even if I WAS rich, should this require me to subsidize attorneys for a higher than market rate?
Finally, any lawyers with the slightest modicum of knowledge about the horse business, should know that the horse business has been a popular tax shelter, but presumes one has money to shelter. As my professional profile explains, I eventually left the horse business and readers should come to the conclusion that I enjoyed a much more lucrative career in the High Tech industry. As an executive in corporate communications, I gained some fame and/or notoriety as launching the first blog in High Tech that targeted investors, industry and financial analysts. (see blog entry by a long time International Analyst Robin Bloor entitled: "Alien Sex Pills." Robin is a published author, a clever writer, a respected international analyst, and a much sought after speaker at Tech forums known for his humor, impeccable vocabulary, analytical skills and particular knowledge of the impact of open source vs. Commercial technology.)
To my dear, new-found non-friend "beek:” Really and truly, if this is the type of logic and tactics you use in your legal practice, and you feel that because my profile happens to be public for any who goes looking, this gives YOU an urge to publish my identity in such a public forum where so many inquiries involve litigation or potential litigation, one must question your ethics and your legal judgment.
Beek's anger and disgust with me for questioning legal fees because I ride horses, presuming I am "rich" resulted in beek's conclusion that I have no right to ask about rates and fees. Furthermore, “beek” chastises me – not once, but several times -- for my stupidity for having a profile that was public, and therefore repeatedly suggests that therefore this justified his/her actions, along with the catty feeding frenzy that followed.
Beek’s entire train of thought revealed a frightening, resentful, ignorant, petty, possibly disturbed individual, who probably should not be allowed on this forum, let alone practicing law!
Maybe I am expecting too much....Ethics? Logic? Fair pricing? Respecting the right of an individual new to the legal profession to ask questions about pricing? Should I have expected a less prejudiced conclution that equestrian skills entitles lawyers to whatever wealth I may have?
All in all, I got a few very good, cautious and un-presumptuous comments which made my use of this forum worth my while.To all those attorneys on the forum who gave me good advice...again, I thank you. In spite of the few bad apples, I do recommend the Legal Forum, both for good lawyers, as well as for those seeking advice. Maybe bad-apple beek was just a case of a "beek" acting like a pecker.
PS - Benefit to my Blog: After "beek" exposed my identity, one forum participant dug a little further into my identity and complimented to the group my "very intersting blog." Legal forum readers -- maybe I made it all up, a planted question designed to test the intelligence of the participants (which beek failed), and to get more hits on my blog. The number and scope of readers worth every insult about my hair color! But then, abusing the forum for my own gain would not really be very ethical behavior on my part, would it?