Web Week – 22/05/06

The Lawyer‘s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs, or the way legal news stories unfold at home and around the world. The US has a strong culture of legal blogs, which is not yet the case here. If you want to direct us to useful links, then email webwatch@thelawyer.com.

Milberg Weiss strikes back on the net

Class action firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman has taken the unusual step of setting up its own website to rebut allegations of illegal kickbacks. Los Angeles federal prosecutors indicted that two partners illegally payed clients to be lead plaintiffs. California legal paper The Recorder said Milberg’s law firm Beck De Corso Daly Kreindler & Harris had been trying to negotiate a nonprosecution agreement for weeks. Milberg denies all allegations. On its website, www.milbergweissjustice.com, it says: “In 40 years, we have successfully prosecuted thousands of class action lawsuits and recovered over $45bn for shareholders and consumers.

“Now, the Justice Department charges the firm with an indictment that is unjust, misguided, and misinformed. We dedicate this website to communicating the truth about their accusations and about how this unjust investigation only helps corrupt corporations escape accountability.”

US class action firms have always been media-savvy, but Milberg has taken this to a new level. On the site you can, if you so desire, sign up for email news alerts on the case. This one will run and run.

PM’s human rights outburst is web hot

The prime Minister’s outburst against the Human Rights Act has attracted criticism from lawyers (see page 8). Mark Stephens wrote in his blog on timesonline.co.uk: “Incompetence and human error have never been legitimate reasons for a government to amend a statutory instrument, let alone the contemplation by this Government that they should water down the fundamental rights enshrined in the Human Rights Act.” ‘Graham Gooch’ posted his reply: “There is no need to amend the Human Rights Act… Article 17 forbids any person to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights or freedoms set out in the convention. The courts should use this to prevent criminals using their ‘rights’ to destroy the rights of others.”

Duty solicitor is duty-bound

The most morose lawyer on the web last week was criminalsolicitor.blogspot.com. This diary of a duty solicitor chronicled a grim weekend of work, writing: “Us criminal solicitors are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to earning money and we do not rank anywhere near our City friends. This weekend was non-stop work for me, and it was murder. Part of my weekend plans also included dealing with another client bailed to appear at a local police station mid-afternoon on Saturday. In fact the time for the bail appointment was 3pm, which was kick-off time for the FA Cup Final…”

A site for sore lawyers

Legal community sites are burgeoning; greedyassociates. com is too tedious for words nowadays, but some enterprising soul has set up lawbby.com, although not with too much participation as yet. Over here, former Herbert Smith associate Alex Lee has set up moreto law.com, focusing on work-life and careers issues. There’s a new agony site called traineesolicitor.co.uk, where students can share their woes. Meanwhile, it was business as usual on gossip site rollonfriday.com, where chatroom debate never strayed far from Big Brother and London day schools.

You can’t choose yourfamily.com

Family warfare meets the internet – a tricky combination. When New York lawyer Jonathan Davidoff had his site, jonathandavidoff.com, tampered with, he blamed his aunt and uncle. He alleged the couple had replaced his postings with a photograph of the lawyer labelled ‘Pig of the Year’, and appearing to say: “I’m going to eat everythng in site.” A Manhattan judge dismissed the case on grounds of jurisdiction.