Every now and then I'll spot a news item that gets my train of thought running uncontrollably down strange tracks.
OK, I know it runs uncontrollably most of the time, but I thought this convoluted track was kind of interesting.
The Los Angeles Times last week reported that its anonymous food critic had been outed by a restaurant. The restaurant owners not only figured out who she was, but took her picture, posted it on the Internet, and kicked her out of their restaurant.
Their excuse was that the reviewer was hard on restaurants and had cost people in the industry their jobs.
I have no idea whether that's true or not, but my first reaction was that this can't possibly be good for the restaurant. It will now be known as the restaurant that refused to be reviewed.
If you want to eat there, you'd better be feeling lucky.
What are they going to do about diners who insist on telling others what they thought of the food?
Make them sign secrecy pledges?
How else are they going to shut down Yelp reviewers?
Now here's where the thought train switches tracks. Think about this in the context of cameras in the courtroom.
The primary argument against them is that people will react differently if cameras are trained on them.
But don't they react differently because they're in court and a judge and lawyers are staring at them?
Do you kick out the cameras because, like the food critic, they might shed some unflattering light on what's going on?
It seems to me that the only way to make certain that witnesses aren't affected by pressure is to film them secretly outside the courtroom when they're not suspecting anything. Maybe you could get one of their friends to ask them about the case during a casual moment.
Any other questioning method is tainted.
Of course if we all knew that we might be secretly videotaped at any moment for use at trial, we might act differently....
Here comes another track switch - what about me?
I look at lawsuits and appellate rulings almost every day. You never know which ones I'm going to report on or, more likely, make fun of. Most of you don't know what I look like. Should I be outed?
Are you writing your lawsuits more seriously because I might find them funny?
I take my responsibility to find silly litigation seriously. What if I were outed?
So I'm going to come clean: I'm six-foot-four, I have thick blond locks, and I can bench press 300 pounds.
If you see me, try to keep me away from your lawsuit.
THERE'S HOPE. I've spotted yet another mini-trend. Remember that I reported it here first.
The trend is naming law firms without using people's names.
Some recent examples: Diversity Law Group, Initiative Legal Group, Consumer Legal Services, Prosper Law Corporation.
But my favorite, spotted just last week, is this one: Hope Now Law Center.
We may not be able to do anything for you, but there's hope.
As you can see, this naming thing can be tricky. Elderly and/or dead partner names may not convey much about you, but the wrong descriptive name can be suicidal. You want to convey just the right qualities with your branding.
Naturally, I have a few names you may want to consider:
Wise Guys, LLP
Honest Abe's Litigation and Negotiation Emporium
Vengeance Is Mine, Inc.
Old Testament Gods & Associates
Think about renaming your firms now.
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