There is a class of lawyer that thinks that there is no bad publicity; that anything that gets their name in the news, regardless of how undistinguished, is worth doing and bragging about. I know one lawyer here in Houston who will take a newsworthy case for a small downpayment, pump the case for publicity, hold press conferences that harm the client’s interests, and then, when the news cycle has passed it by and the client can’t pay her balance, dump the client.
The theory, I think, is that the booboisie thinks that only good lawyers get their name in the news, so that the audience associates “high-profile” with “good.” And the theory might be an accurate one, especially in the more vacuous parts of the country. I recently had a conversation with an LA Times reporter who wanted the scoop on another Houston criminal-defense lawyer; she thought he must not be a very good lawyer because he didn’t have many high-profile cases. The truth, which I tried to explain to her, is that keeping his clients’ names out of the paper is a major part of the job for a criminal-defense lawyer who is looking out for his clients. Often the appearance of the lawyer’s name in the paper or face on the news means that the lawyer has already failed. (If you come upon a lawyer who calls himself “high-profile” or says he specializes in high-profile cases, don’t walk away. Run.)
Joseph Rakofsky found out that not all publicity is good publicity when the Washington Post wrote about his performance in a murder trial in Washington, DC, and the blawgosphere picked up the story. In reaction to the bad pub, Rakofsky filed suit against the Internet with the help of a lawyer named Richard Borzouye.
Richard Borzouye, whom Rakofsky listed as a member of his firm, has a website. On his website, Borzouye has a page of “notable cases.” For example, the Cory Lidle plane crash…
…in which Borzouye acted as “spokesman” for his aunt after an airplane crashed into her apartment.
And Moustakis v. Christie‘s…
…which Borzouye’s client (represented by other counsel) ultimately lost.
And U.S. v. Brooks…
…in which Richard Borzouye got some press for his losing argument that a five-year statute of limitations is in fact a 1,825-day statute of limitations, and then was fired by a very unhappy client who had seen him in action in trial:
Borzouye Withdrawal Letter
(One of the claims Borzouye makes against the Rakofsky 74 is that they “used for advertising purposes, or the purposes of trade, the name, portrait or picture of plaintiff a living person without first having obtained the written consent of plaintiff”—a claim that Mr. Brooks and Mr. Moustakis could make against Mr. Borzouye?)
The point: Richard Borzouye is one of those lawyers who believes in the power of publicity; it may well be that he associated his name with the silliness that is Rakofsky v. Internet in order to have another case to add to the “notable cases” page on his website.
If publicity is by definition good, then the Rakofsky lawsuit is doubly frivolous because the defendants all helped Rakofsky by giving him free publicity. But if publicity is by definition good, then why not—aside from sanctions—file a frivolous lawsuit against bloggers who have shown themselves not to be shy about sharing their opinions of other lawyers’ ineptitude and unethicalness?
As Bradley Shear asked on Twitter, “could Rakofsky v. Internet be the greatest legal marketing promo of all time?”