Lawyer Gets Ugly Over Internet Criticism, Gets Suspended

Lawyer Gets Ugly Over Internet Criticism, Gets Suspended

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For all the good that social media has brought forth including connections, business, E-commerce, idea sharing, and global interconnectedness on every level…

A lot of these platforms have also brought trolls, people who are bullies and the ability to criticize businesses and people (truth or not) in a very public and accessible way…

And these reviews (such as reviews on Yelp, Google, Glass Door) can be critical to the businesses continued growth…

They are not always the kindest words from the client, patron or guest but some disregard them and some take the feedback very seriously to help make improvements to their businesses…

And some respond in the worst way possible…like one lawyer…

A lawyer accused of disclosing confidential information from his clients in response to their Internet criticism has been suspended for 18 months…

According to ABA Journal writings, Lawyer James Underhill will have to show rehabilitation before returning to law practice, according to the order by Colorado’s presiding disciplinary judge.

(You can see the Legal Profession Blog notes on the suspension.)

According to the order, Underhill disclosed confidential information in response to clients’ Internet complaints about his fees or services in two instances…

And it was not pretty or ethical whatsoever…

In the first, Underhill responded to complaints on two websites by former clients, a husband and wife, “with Internet postings that publicly shamed the couple by disclosing highly sensitive and confidential information gleaned from attorney-client discussions,” the order says.

In the second instance, Underhill posted an attorney-client communication on the Internet in response to former clients’ complaints about his representation on the Better Business Bureau website, the order says.

No. No. NO.

Some of us have the luxury of responding to negative comments on our social media platforms (as individuals) without much repercussion…

That luxury significantly shrinks when you are a professional…

That luxury nearly disappears when you have client/professional confidentiality agreements and oaths…

We are not saying that negative comments aren’t frustrating and sometimes unfounded…

HOWEVER, responding as this attorney did is unprofessional and more importantly, unethical!

As we said, no business is immune to negative comments or criticism from the public and Zanes Law has had its fair share of it…

We like to respond to the frustrated client or person but never with ANY details of the case at hand.

Instead, we encourage the commenter to call into our office to have a valid and one on one discussion with us so we can protect the details and people involved in the case.

If you have a problem with the professional you are communicating with or doing business with or using services with, CALL THEM!

And the same goes for the professional – it’s best to keep online engagement of negative media and criticism to a minimum.

As personal injury attorneys in Phoenix and Tucson who have served thousands of clients over the years, we have had a few negative comments online. It has always been our protocol to only speak in private to the client because their case is private and should not be discussed in public at all.

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