April 12, 2007
ROB HUDDLESTON HAS MORE THOUGHTS on the JL Kirk / King & Ballow libel demand. He thinks they chose unwisely:
Yes, the practice of issuing demand letters as a way of getting what a client wants without having to resort to actual litigation is widely used. However, you can't treat every case the same. You need to know when something is going to be attractive to media - local, state, or (in this case) global. This goes for civil suits (as the one being threatened against Kat), criminal suits, and even juvenile cases (because the media can request access on certain hearings there, too). If this case is going to make the media take notice (taking into account that mainstream sources oftentimes are agitated to action by bloggers), then you have to be perfect in your actions.
I agree that this was ill-conceived. It has certainly done more harm to JL Kirk's reputation than the original post could have. And there's this: "Now, if you use Google Blog Search or Technorati, there are between 65 and 75 blogs posting on the incident and that’s only using the search term JL Kirk and Associates. . . . This whole thing wouldn’t have even been a blip on Google, but look where it is now."
I could have predicted that. Come to think of it, I did! And more than once.
UPDATE: There's nothing on their site yet, but I hear that the Media Bloggers Association is getting involved. This would seem to underscore Bill Hobbs' point that a demand letter making threats "will, almost with a certainty, generate severe blowback and damage the company's reputation far worse than the blog post that initially offended them." Likewise Justin Levine: "In my experience, the bigger the law firm, the less likely they are to understand how blogging culture has changed the landscape. These people don’t understand that a legal threat is far more likely to damage their client’s reputation, rather than repair it."
Indeed. Why, you could write a whole book on how this stuff has changed . . . .
Further thoughts from Rex Hammock. And, via Rex, this Better Business Bureau report on JL Kirk.
Still more here.