Law Buzz Slowed to a Dim Hum

We haven’t heard much on Slaw about the legal situation with LawBuzz yet.

It’s been covered by the Law Times, Precedent, PRWeb, and Michael Geist, so I won’t go into the details of the case. A blog established by unknown authors (I asked) has also been set up dedicated to the suit. Some potentially defamatory posts were made about AdviceScene, resulting in litigation that has again raised some serious questions about online comment.

I was first exposed to the site in my first year of law school, when a member of our Student Legal Society brought it to my attention. Another member of our executive had been unfairly criticized after being presented the Malcolm J. McKinnon Award. As the only other nominee for the award I thought it prudent to step in and tell the disgruntled student(s) that this approach would not resolve their issues, and only made our school look bad.

The reason why the forum could be used to air such grievances was that the site was notorious for allowing anonymous postings. I can see some role for anonymous whistleblowing, salary disclosures, and professional practices. Unfortunately that is not what the site was primarily used for. I won’t get into the assorted mix of sexist, misogynist, racist, crude, and unethical behaviour that populated the site.

My conclusion was that the site was frequented by undergraduate students who did not get into law school, and were determined to ruin the image of the legal profession. Really, that’s all it accomplished. If law students wanted to discuss these strange topics, why wouldn’t they do it with others of a similar interest outside of the field on a different site?

I recently met with counsel for the case, Antonin Pribetic, and discovered that as a result of the litigation we know that at least some of the members are not just law students, but senior practitioners in the field. I’m not sure how I can personally reconcile this revelation, and I don’t know what these individuals intended to accomplish from their online activity.

I easily concede that it’s incredibly difficult to monitor and manage a site. But when the defining content of a site is so consistently inappropriate, I’m not sure the same kind of case can be made.

In the meantime LawBuzz appears to be down claiming “technical difficulties,” with one source claiming the site is closed permanently. As much as I believe there’s always room for more voices in the legal profession online, I won’t be lamenting this particular loss.

However, a spin-off site has already been created, and already has thousands of posts. As expected, there have already been warnings on the new site about expected behaviour by users.

Let’s hope they actually adhere to it.

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