Stupid lawyer tricks, part two

Not to get on a rant against lawyers or anything (see previous post about Avvo being sued), but I couldn’t help mentioning the little brouhaha Dell got into recently with the Consumerist blog, after a lawyer for the company company wrote the website an email asking them to take down one of their posts — specifically, this post, which contained 22 suggestions from a former Dell employee about how to get good deals and/or good service. I encourage you to read the whole thing and email it to your friends.

snipshot_e4pt1ajvq9k.jpgIn the letter, which is quoted verbatim on Consumerist, Tracy Holland of Dell says that the spot in question “contains information that is confidential and proprietary to Dell,” and that this is “in violation of his or her employment agreement and confidentiality obligations.” As I was reading, I imagined the editor of Consumerist reading the letter and wondering “and all this relates to me how exactly?” Which is pretty much what the lawyer for the blog said in her response: “We came by this material entirely legally: we were provided it by a third party voluntarily, we did not use any improper means to solicit any Dell employee to breach any agreement he may have had with you.”

One of the funny parts is when the Dell lawyer sends a second email at about 2 a.m., saying “Thank you. Note, though, it has been almost nine hours since we made the request, yet the posting is still up.” In her response, the Consumerist lawyer starts with:

“Despite some suggestions to the contrary among some of our fellow beings, most humans need to sleep. Some of us also receive hundreds of emails a day and have to deal with every one of them. I received this email at 12am last night. It is 7am now. That’s a pretty good turnaround.”

Hilarious. I have a feeling my friend Lionel Menchaca, the head blogger at Dell — who we had on a panel at mesh a couple of weeks ago and who is a wonderful guy, and the architect of Dell’s successful blogger outreach program — would cringe if he read any of that exchange. Update: In fact, Lionel has cringed (or at least it reads that way) and has responded with a mea culpa here. Much props to him for doing so.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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