How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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David Giacalone

Hoaxy or not, those seem to be real lawyer Google Ads on the site -- some firms are more than happy to take advantage of all the traffic we're driving to "Leon's" money-maker. Is life weird enough?

Federalist No. 84

This could be the Rathergate of the tort reform movement.


David: "Real lawyer ads"--I guess so. But the lawyers with Google Ads don't choose where their ads show up, right? When I've used Google Ads, that was my experience.


Hmmm. I am one of the listed disciples (lol). I am willing to believe the ad is non-serious, meaning that it was aimed more at getting traffic and probably was not written by a law firm, and am posting an update as such with a link to this site.

Hoax? In my mind, its a hoax only if the legal advice is wrong or if you think no one would respond to the plea. I can't tell you if Vioxx can still be bought nowadays (that may be a hoax). However, if it was still on the shelf somewhere, ask yourself two honest questions:

1. Is there a lawyer out there who would happily try to make the case that a person who bought vioxx after the recall can still be awarded damages?
2. Are there people out there who, if they thought it would get them in on a big class action, would go out today and load up on vioxx solely to get a chance at having a lawsuit?

The honest answer is yes to both. I mean, I would bet about any amont of money that someone out there has read this on the Internet and has tried to go buy Vioxx to get in on the jackpot. Gauranteed. Would any of you take the other side of this bet?

The fact that this ad may not be from a real lawyer does mean that I may have overstepped in painting law firms as being this bad (sorry), but I don't think its being fake in any way hurts the case that the notion of individual responsiblity is on life support in this country.


Coyote: Thanks for the comment. You ask whether people would ingest Vioxx after the recall in order to get in on a lawsuit: could such a thing happen? I suppose, but your point would be more persuasive if it actually did happen. I'm skeptical. It would be like deliberately cutting your wrists so that you could sue a knife manufacturer: not only would your claim be dubious, but it sure would hurt to cut yourself. Plus, you might die. With all the news out there that Vioxx causes heart problems, including sudden death, I doubt that even the most greedy would try it.

Could people simply buy Vioxx (if available) but not take it and hope to sue? Yes, but they wouldn't have any damages. Could they phony up some fake records like those fen-phen claimants in Mississippi? Again, yes, but then they might go to jail.

You mention that the ad would be a hoax if "if the legal advice is wrong." Well, the legal advice in that "ad" is wrong from start to finish. No lawyer would advise people to buy Vioxx after the recall in order to get deliberately sick and sue. If any lawyers did that (which I can assure you, none would, even if they'd do many other things), they should be disbarred and thrown in jail.

Finally, sorry for calling you a disciple of Walter's. I know he has about 27,000 of them, but can I say whether any one particular person is a disciple? No I can't.


Huh? Walter's post plainly states he "saw no indication that it was itself posted by a member of the legal profession." In any event, Walter's website message is more anti-litigation-culture than anti-lawyer. And, let's face it, it's the litigation culture that make scams like the Vioxx page possible--it's the lawyers willing to advertise on the keyword of "Vioxx" that make the page profitable, and it's the get-rich-quick attitude of many lawyer advertisements that allows this guy to sucker people for $100/pop.

Stitch in Haste doesn't mention the scam page, just Walter's post. RiskProf doesn't claim that lawyers put forward the scam page, and says in the comments section of fka that he agrees it isn't a lawyer. And one of the blogs you cite is anti-Merck.

David Giacalone

Evan, that's a good point. I just tried to learn whether an advertiser can ask to be removed from particular sites, but could not find the answer. Any one know?

Coyote: About your two questions: Was there ever a century in which the answers were anything but "yes"? Do you really believe that our legal system encourages dishonest lawyers and humans?

And, three questions of my own: (1) "Are there any drug manufacturers out there who would put a product on the market they know is dangerous?" (2) Should consumers who are injured be able to sue them? (3) Who has more to gain from this hoax and the publicity it has generated, Tort Reformers or Tort Lawyers?


Ted: "Huh?" to you too. In quoting Walter's post, you omitted the phrase that demonstrates Walter's implication that a law firm might have written the ad.

Here's what Walter said in full: "The website's sponsorship is not immediately apparent; though it is chock-full of Google ads for law firms, we saw no indication that it was itself posted by a member of the legal profession, though we may have overlooked something" (emphasis added twice).

Walter is plainly implying that a law firm or lawyer might have written the ad. By the way, the lines I quoted were from the final paragraph of the post. If Walter didn't want readers drawing the implication I am ascribing him, he was certainly capable of being more precise.

David Giacalone

Walter has been hanging around lawyers so much that he can surely "lawyer" a sentence with the best of them -- preserving angelic deniability while perpetrating devilish implications. It's a talent that many lawyers, politicians and diplomats surely admire.

Ted, it's not the "litigation culture" that makes ads like that potentially profitable. It's "human nature." You'll see the tendency on Wall Street, Main Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue -- and trace it back before the first road was ever paved.

If anyone ever does buy it, we'll probably find out that no one had purchased the $100 Letter before the site got so much publicity thanks to Overlawyered and similar "law reform" sites.

Federalist No. 84

In any event, Walter's website message is more anti-litigation-culture than anti-lawyer.

That's why his website is called overlitigation.com and his book is entitled, "The Rule of Litigation: How Private Citizens Threaten America's Rule of Law."

Federalist No. 84

It seems that Olson posted the ad to put plaintiffs' lawyers as a group in a false light. By substituting "Baron & Budd," we can see how.

Thus, "we saw no indication that it was itself posted by [Baron & Budd], though we may have overlooked something." I suspect B&B would have had a nice lawsuit had the post read that way. However, Mr. Olson deftly created a huge class, "legal profession," which thus would insulate him from any liability.

Before that post I greatly respected Mr. Olson. But now I don't see how I can trust him.

I don't like innuendo, and I don't like false light. Especially from people with a wide audience and who seek to inform public policy.


One of those Google Ads is for Lieff Cabraser. Anyone here wanna contact LC to see if they know anything?



Federalist: Sounds like a job for you, should you choose to accept it. You might learn more by reading about Google Ads on the Google site, though. I'm not sure if the lawyers will have an explanation. Using myself as an example: I've used Google Ads before, knowing my ad would come up alongside Google results when people search for the term I used as a keyword--but then I noticed my ad was coming up on other sites as well, such as the Alton Telegraph newspaper website. No one told me where exactly my ad would show up, though I had a general idea that if I paid more for a click-through, it would show up in more places.

But give Lief Cabraser a shot if you want. I'm sure they wouldn't like to be associated with that Vioxx "ad" that's at the heart of this intrigue . . . even though they have been accused of "manipulating the Internet."

David Giacalone

I have sent an email message to the service folks at Google AdWords saying

This site "Get Your Million Dollars From Vioxx Lawsuit" appears to be soliticing clients and lawsuits that are based on fraudulent claims. Is there a way for lawyers seeking Vioxx-related suits to be kept off of this site, which has received much bad press?

One AdWords FAQ notes "At this time, it is not possible to select specific sites or products where you would like your ads to appear. . . . However, Google technology ensures that your ads appear only within high-quality sites and products that are directly relevant to your service." (emphasis added)

Another AdWords FAQ says "we have tools in place to immediately remove ads if they do appear on a page with questionable content." Since Americans seem to think that sex is the only inappropriate vice, this promise might not be relevant.

Perhaps Google will decide the site in question is not a "high-quality" or "appropriate" site.


Under the Google Adwords program, you have the option of having your ads run solely under the google search results page or also showing up with websites that are part of their advertising 'network', Adsense. Google has automated spidering and displays ads alongside content that contains an advertiser's pre-selected terms that they wish to appear under. Unfortunately, it's a blanket right now and while you might get an ad listing on a perfectly reputable site talking about, in this instance, Vioxx you also run the risk of showing up on sites of "Leon's" ilk.

Individuals like "Leon" build sites with the sole intention of displaying the most expensive terms so they can make money from the clicks, not so they can make the public more informed. It's a growing problem in the online advertising industry. These online marketers are migrating to the legal advertising space after the crackdown on the online pharmacy sector.

My solution has been to choose not to be displayed under the Adsense network. The quality of the traffic derived from these sites has been low and is just getting lower as more junk sites clog things up. Just think about how many of you have clicked on those ad links and how much money has gone to Google and Leon as a result. None of that traffic was of any value to the advertisers.

David Giacalone

Thanks for the info, Andy. This afternoon, I got the following reply to my inquiry from the AdWords service folk:

Hello David,

Thank you for your email. I understand you are concerned about a site within our content network.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I have forwarded your message to our AdSense Team who will review the issue thoroughly and take action as necessary. We appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns.
. . .


The Google AdWords Team

Others might want to let the AdSense Team know their feelings about the appropriateness of the Vioxx-Million website by contacting them at adsense-support@google.com .


"Here's what Walter said in full: "The website's sponsorship is not immediately apparent; though it is chock-full of Google ads for law firms, we saw no indication that it was itself posted by a member of the legal profession, though we may have overlooked something" (emphasis added twice)."

How else would you say that? That is, I read that and knew immediately that he meant something like this:

Even though this site is about lawyers and this site seems to be an over-the-top version of lawyers gone wild, it might not actually have been posted by a lawyer at all. In fact, I can't really tell WHO posted, but I haven't taken the time to check every little nuance, so don't quote me on that.

Pull your head out, already.


Deoxy: Thanks for the comment. But unless one already has his head out, he probably won't understand that it's in the nuances that battles are won and lost.

Get it? I didn't think so.

Michael Monheit

At least you could report with equal vigor the other half of the story...


Andy Sweet

From the article, it sounds like they got kicked out of Adsense and then decided to remove the PSA's, since it makes them no money. There are other ad networks out there for them, but not as much money to be made as the click value is significantly lower.

Only took Google about month...

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