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Bradley Johnson, Seattle Spam Lawyer

One of the more obnoxious aspects of blogging is comment spam.  Usually comment spammers are promoting Viagra or online gambling.  Lawyers like Bradley Johnson have fallen to the lowest common denominator, littering legal blogs with spam.  

Back in September, someone promoting Seattle attorney Bradley Johnson left a spam comment at Popehat.  Spam-comment-by-Seattle-personal-injury-attorney-Bradley-Johnson  

As the Popehat bloggers noted:

While the post to which “Bradley Johnson” replied, and which he really enjoyed, concerns a competing Seattle attorney, he did not read it. The post is a squib, containing just a few words. It was posted months ago, so it’s hardly fresh. No one actually reading the blog post would have “really enjoyed” it. He just would have followed the link within. And he certainly wouldn’t bookmark this site, because the post is one of the most inconsequential bits of fluff we’ve ever published.

I just received a similar spam comment from Bradley Johnson.  I immediately remembered the Popehat post.  The spam comment I received is nearly identical to the one Popehat received.  

The spam comment reads, in full: "Great post about the law. I found it to be very useful. I will have to bookmark your site for future reading."  How flattering!

Of course, Bradley Johnson does not use his real name.  Instead, he posts as "seattle criminal attorney."  (In his Popehat comment, Mr. Johnson posted as "seattle injury attorney.")  Folks who post legitimate comments use their names, or some silly pseudonym.  Folks do not post as "seattle criminal attorney" or "seattle injury attorney" when posting comments - unless their intent is to spam.

Mr. Johnson is attempting to trick Google.  The thinking (which is wrong and outdated) is that sprinkling "seattle criminal attorney" into blog comments sections will lead to a better Google result for those terms.  When a potential client Googles "seattle criminal attorney," they'll be more likely to land on Mr. Johnson's site.  By wasting my time and taking a shit at my site, Bradley Johnson hopes his site will have a better result in Google.

Now it could be that Mr. Johnson is using some scummy marketing service, and that he is not personally posting the comments.  Could be.  And so what?  A principal is responsible for the acts of his agents.  Don't hire scumbags unless you want to be held vicariously liable for scumbaggery.

Some have persuasively argued that lawyers who hire scummy marketing companies are strictly liable for spam comments.  They say that a lawyer who outsourced his marketing has also outsourced his ethics and reputation. I am not so harsh.  People are technologically unsophisticated, and are entitled to one screw-up.

However, someone has been posting comment spam on Mr. Johnson's behalf since at least September.  I have it on good authority that Mr. Johnson was alerted to the problem.  Yet the comment spam continues.  Recently, Mr. Johnson left a similar spam comment at the Blog of Legal Times (here); and the Washington Legal Rebel (here).

Well, Mr. Johnson: Congratulations.  Your name will indeed have a high result in Google.  In a week or two, anyone Googling your name will quickly learn about comment spam.

Tiger Woods and Tyranny

If Tiger Woods died today, would you be able to pay your mortgage?  Would your kids still wake up?  Would your dog still love you?  Why care about Tiger Woods?  We care about Tiger Woods because they want us to.

Think about how many people are F5'ing the Drudge Report to see what's new with Tiger (we're all on a first-named basis).  Why care?  Because he is a close personal friend and thus his intimate doings are so important to my life?  In fact, he is so close to me that I will be receiving updates from TMZ and Drudge rather than receiving e-mails and texts from Tiger himself?

Obsessing over Woods will not strike me as ironic or pathetic, because I've been conditioned to obsess over celebrities. An obsession with celebrity is an outgrowth of the need for mythical figures - which almost always means authority figures! He who worships a movie star today will worship a president or judge tomorrow.

It's teaching us to worship that is important.  For once you've conditioned someone to worship, the only fight becomes: Whom will they worship?

Since the power elite have the same interests, it matters only at the margins whether you worship a Democrat or a Republican - a liberal or a conservative. The 2-trillion-dollar bailouts started under George W. Bush and continued under Barack Obama. Do you really think Goldman Sachs cares whether there is a Democrat or a Republican in office?

Stop caring about celebrities, team sports, and other pop culture silliness, and suddenly you'll find yourself less deferential to those in power.  You'll become an individual who finds meaning in himself or herself rather than in myths.

The battle is fought over framing.  Are you a follower or not?  If you care about Tiger Woods, you most certainly are a follower.  The only question is the name of your shepherd.

Cognitive Bias and Climategate

Did a whistle blower reveal hidden documents to the public; or was a hacker responsible?  If your answer is, "That's a stupid question," then you are likely free of mind control.  If the question makes sense to you, you're brain has been through too many spin cycles.

How much money do people spend on DVDs each year?  How many will balk at spending a few bucks on this?  And thus it's easy to see why America as a great country is finished.  

Credit Cards and Cognitive Bias

Tonight PBS's Frontline will air a fascinating article on how credit card companies manipulate consumers into bad deals.  Some of the stuff is illegal, although some perfectly legal tactics rely on cognitive biases like optimism bias:

"I used to use the word 'penalty pricing' or 'stealth pricing,'" [a credit card exec.] tells FRONTLINE. "When people make the buying decision, they don't look at the penalty fees because they never believe they'll be late. They never believe they'll be over limit, right? ... Our business took off. ... We were making a billion dollars a year."

More details on the special is here.  

There's a lesson for criminal defense lawyers in there, too.  How many conditions of probation should be inserted into a plea agreement?  Oh, of course every client will follow every term and condition of probation.  Next thing you know, you're saying, "How could you have been so stupid as to not do your community service?"  Well, how could you have been so optimistic that he would?

Optimism bias means - in law and in life - one should be bound to as few terms as possible - since it's not likely that one is really going to do everything he says he will.  Always ask: "What's the worst that can happen?" rather than, "How many things can I take on?"  It's a simple framing maneuver.  

Optimism bias will usually prevent a person from allowing negativity to prevent him from assuming any obligations.  One just needs to even the scales.

Reframing the issue away from optimism bias is also a procrastination killer.  "I'll get to it tomorrow" presupposes that you will be able to.  Maybe you'll get sick; get into a car wreck; need to attend to a family emergency.  If you truly can't get to it until tomorrow, fine.  

Don't put it off, though, just because you assume that you'll be around tomorrow.  I just had some sort of super flu.  Missed zero deadlines and asked for zero extensions because I don't procrastinate - even though I am naturally a procrastinator.  If I have time to do something, I do it immediately because there's no guarantee I'll be around to do it tomorrow.  

Probably there's a life lesson in there, too.  Do you assume your friends, family, and pets will be here tomorrow?  Why?  People die unexpectedly so often that it's to be expected.  

Recognizing that the sun might not come out tomorrow is often the way to ensure sunny days today.

How Old is 15?

Great points from Dave Chappelle. Under the law of many states, a 17-year old is unable to consent to sex with her 18-year old boyfriend. In those same states, a 15-year old can be tried as an adult. If a person lacks the ability to understand the nature of sex, how can a person understand the nature of criminal acts? Add in race, and you have the wisdom of Chappelle (video starts at 4:20, and is worth watching from the beginning):

Law, Image, and Entitlement

"The definition of a narcissist is one who creates an identity and prizes it above all other things." Defining one's self in light of one's job is symptomatic of narcissists, and is common in lawyers. As if italicizing one's profession were not enough ("I'm a lawyer"), lawyers must create a stronger bulwark by calling everyone else non-lawyers. You don't hear mechanics speak of non-mechanics, or engineers as non-engineers, or physicists as non-physicists. What a person does is not who a person is - at least if you have a healthy sense of self.


The worst job a lawyer can have is that of a temporary lawyer. Unlike in other professions, a temporary lawyer is not someone who shows up to do work commensurate with his education. A temporary secretary, e.g., comes into an office to do secretarial work (perhaps while the regular secretary is out on sick leave). A contract lawyer, by contrast, does not do lawyerly work.

A contract lawyer is placed in a small room, huddled next to other lawyers.  There are often cockroaches running around the floor; there is rarely ventilation; and there is never autonomy or independent judgment.

Instead, contract lawyers stare at a computer monitor, reviewing documents to see whether the documents fall under attorney-client privilege.  A contract lawyer must go through 60-100 8.5x11" sheets each hour.  There is no room to think, since there is nothing to think about.  Whether or not a document is privileged is something a smart teenager could figure out simultaneously playing World of Warcraft and listening to an iPod.

After a year or so of contract lawyering, a lawyer is viewed as untouchable. Every heuristic and bias goes against contract lawyers.  "If no one else would hire you to do real legal work, why would I?"  Not every contract lawyer is hopeless.


For one contract lawyer, there was an out. Guest-blogging at the always-depressing Temporary Attorney Blog, someone with few job options wrote:

A college friend of mine works for Cognizant, a mobile communications technology company. Upon hearing of my plight, he asked me to give him my resume so he could forward it to his friend in the legal department. I hesitatingly did so, knowing in my heart and mind that I would be quickly rejected and laughed at because of all the Contract Attorney experience listed on my resume. My prediction came true: my friend called me a few days after forwarding my resume and told me his friend in the legal department determined that I "didn't have the skill set" they needed. My friend pressed him to define exactly what he meant by "skill set," and he said the following (my friend actually took notes):

1) New York Law School is a joke, a farce. They don't even consider NYLS graduates for attorney positions.

He might be able to get me an interview for a paralegal position though, but it's a long shot. (Mr. Matasar. I AM A LICENSED ATTORNEY, NOT A PARALEGAL!! I SPENT OVER $140,000 TO OBTAIN MY J.D. FROM NYLS AND I'M ADMITTED TO PRACTICE IN TWO JURISDICTIONS!!)

The contract lawyer is desperate for money. Later in the post, he states that he's so desperate that he's going to default on his student loans. His identity is so tied up into his J.D. and bar passages that he'd rather be broke than suffer the destruction of that identity.


The entitlement mentality of common of narcissism. He passed two bars (ALL CAPS! EXCLAMATION POINTS!). He's a lawyer. None of this matters to anyone but himself. No one owes him a job.

His entitlement attitude is self-destructive in another way. What if he took a job as a paralegal? Consider the possibilities for a minute.

A smart paralegal is usually asked, "Why aren't you a lawyer?" Often a paralegal is a lawyer - though perhaps not a member of the Bar. Some people do not want the stress of being a lawyer, and in California, anyway, a paralegal usually gets paid overtime.

A paralegal who can do lawyer-like legal work will soon find himself receiving more lawyer-like work. A paralegal who works and thinks like a lawyer - and who is also a licensed lawyer will - not long be working as a paralegal.

If this contract lawyer is as good as he thinks, then he will soon have a job doing real lawyering. Yet his fake image of himself as a lawyer will prevent him from ever becoming a real lawyer.

He is entitled to better. Because he is entitled to better, he will receive nothing.


Many people wind up like the hapless loser contract lawyer. "I won't dare to that!" Well, why not? Because it's beneath you? If it really beneath you, or beneath the false identity you've created?

Interestingly, it's often the person with the strongest sense of self who will do the lowliest level work when it needs to be done. Of course it's economically inefficient for the CEO to take out the trash. Yet many empty trash cans when it needs done. There is no, "What has my identity become?!" narcissistic injury. A person with a strong sense of self is not defined by taking out the trash.

Will you do what you must do? That is good questions to ask ourselves each day. Often we have no good reason for why we won't. If the best answer is, ultimately, "Narcissism," then we're at least on our way to recovery.

Kurt Greenbaum, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Reporter, is a Fraud and Hypocrite

Kurt Greenbaum, a director of social media for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has answered an important question.  Namely: "What happens when someone that knows very little about social media gets a job as a director of social media?"  In answering the question, Greenbaum reveals himself as unethical and hypocritical.

Kurt Greenbaum blogs at STL Social Media Guy, and is the online news director and now director of social media.  On his hard-hitting blog, Greenbaum asked readers: "What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten?"  A not especially clever person wrote, "Pussy."  Harhar.  A moderator deleted the comment.  Wanting his voice to be heard, the nit-wit posted again, "Pussy."

Mr. Greenbaum was enraged.  He had to get revenge.  He obtained the ISP # of the commenter, and called the commenter's employer. The commenter, who worked at a high school, resigned.  Pity the students the loss of someone so creative!

How did people learn about the resignation?  Perhaps Mr. Pussyman went to the newspapers to discuss Mr. Greenbaum's moves?  Oh, no.  It gets better.

Mr. Greenbaum published a blog post where he gloated over the resignation: "Post a vulgar comment at work, lose your job."  Did Greenbaum think his readers would revel in his glory?  Yes, he really did.  He thought that readers would be excited to learn that Post-Dispatch editor's will call employers over blog comments.

He thought his readers would be pleased to learn that Mr. Greenbaum violated the Post-Dispatch's privacy policy.  The policy is broad: "We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information."  

One need not have a law degree to realize that Mr. Greenbaum shared user information with third parties without the commenter's consent.  Nevertheless, Mr. Greenbaum has denied violating the policy.  

Even more remarkable is how Mr. Greenbaum reacted to the (predictable, to anyone who understands social media, anyway) push back.  Readers were furious that Mr. Greenbaum got a man fired for posting a comment at his blog.  Shocked at the push back, Greenbaum posted on his Twitter account: "Amazed at the readers who comment in defense of a jackass who posted a vulgarity on our site -- and lost his job."  

That Greenbaum was amazed by the reader reaction indicates that he is a fraud.  Greenbaum has no understanding of social media.  His every paycheck is theft.  That Mr. Greenbaum sees no irony in using "jackass" in a post criticizing someone for being vulgar reveals him to be a pathetic hypocrite.