Last year, Brian Tannebaum wrote about attorney Christopher J. McCann. Apparently McCann was trying to build his online reputation the wrong way. Long story short, McCann’s marketeer, Nader, asked Brian if he could write a guest post on Brian’s blog, My Law License.
Brian wondered why McCann, who advertised “personal service” on his website, couldn’t just pick up and the phone and ask him to write a guest post instead of having his webmaster do it:
I just wonder why Chris has hired someone to go find lawyers and try to sell himself on their blogs. Can’t he send his own email, or “call directly?” Where’s the “personal service” Chris. Chris?
A few days after Tannebaum posted his article, Matt Brown, a young lawyer in Arizona, wrote a blog post about availability which mentioned McCann in passing. In doing so, Brown described McCann’s marketing techniques as “scummy.”
Ok, fair enough. We call that First Amendment protected opinion. For instance, you may think my blog is stupid, crummy, and boring. While that opinion might hurt my feelings, you’re also entitled to express it.
So… fast forward to June of 2013…
Apparently McCann read Matt’s post describing his scummy marketing techniques, and it hurt his feelings very deeply. More than a year after Matt Brown wrote his piece, McCann commented on Matt’s blog:
Christopher J. McCann says:
Why don’t you call the number on my website and find out it I answer my own calls before you libel me? You equate a marketing professional trying to help me publish my content, with lawyers who don’t do their own work and answer their own calls? The reason I need someone to do that is because I DO answer ALL my own calls. Try to find lawyers who still do that.
Because I provide way more personal service to my clients and work on their cases than any lawyer I know, I don’t have the time (and technical knowledge) to know where I can get my content published too. Imagine that: a good lawyer who is working for his clients while having other professionals work on his marketing. You have a problem with that? If so, you’re in minority and clearly don’t understand business.
If you doubt me, call my number ANYTIME. Day or night, weekends or holidays. I’ll pick up. Go ahead and do it. Perhaps you should have done that before posting this garbage. Here is my number from my website: (888) 360-4256 and (949) 596-0060. I’ll be waiting.
I don’t think the word “libel” means what Christopher J. McCann thinks it means.
McCann went on and sent Matt Brown a private email, which he did not give Brown “permission” to publish:
Go ahead and call me anytime if you doubt I pick up my own calls. It’s noteworthy that you criticize “lawyers” who don’t do their own work, when your post is a rehash of some other lawyers blog. How ironic.
You have committed libel against me. I am a professional, but a private individual, and your comments are patently false. I suggest you think twice about posting information that you have not confirmed first.
Call me ANYTIME and see who picks up my calls.
You do not have permission to post this communication.
I love it when people say “you do not have permission to post this communication.” One does not need permission to post a communication sent via email, even if publishing it makes the person who sent it look stupid.
Firstly, you said I “apparently” use “scumbag marketing tactics.” Then you say this “highlights” a “phenomenon” of lawyers who “suck” and don’t answer their phones or do their own work. Then you go on and on about this.
To anyone reading this, are clearly saying I am such a lawyer. You know nothing about me, my ability as a lawyer, or how I run my business. You simply cherry-picked some quote from another lawyer’s prominent blog in order give your blog more SEO juice, rather than simply use your own content. Please don’t pretend you referenced this other blog for some other reason. We both know better. The irony is you are criticizing lawyers who don’t do their own work by capitalizing on some other lawyer’s work that he puts into his blog.
Your problem is you republish his link and insult me again, and put me in a false light, without looking into the fact that that other lawyer is falsely portraying what happened so he can crowbar me into a point he wants to make. I answer my own calls and do my own work. I write content. I just don’t have the time or know how to find places to publish it. I hired someone more knowledgeable than me to find websites that would publish it to get my name out there. That neither makes me a bad lawyer, nor a “scumbag marketer.” All that lawyer had to say was “no thanks.” I get requests all the time. Instead he hides behind a computer and insults me and my colleague who stuck up for me.
He and others like you forget these contents do not go into a vacuum. You are using interstate communications to make accusations about real people–private individuals–who exist and are going to see this anywhere there is internet access. That makes your conduct actionable in any court that I wish to pursue this.
You have insulting me by clearly portraying me in a false light. As a private individual, that is actionable. I demand you remove any reference to me from that post and my comment.
If you do so, I’ll leave it at that. If not, I am going to explore my legal options against you and your partner who is cc’d on this communication.
Interesting. McCann is threatening Matt Brown with threats of a frivolous SLAPP suit but not Tannebaum. I wonder why that is…? Does McCann think he can intimidate Matt Brown just because he is young? Is McCann afraid to threaten Tannebaum? Hmmmmm….
Peculiar choice of targets aside, I definitely like the scariness factor of using the words “interstate communications”, which sounds so lawyerly. McCann suggests these “interstate communications” open up Brown to liability in all 50 states. (hint: Joseph Rakofsky thought that, too. Because as we all know, the internet is a series of tubes!) I’m not sure what McCann’s legal basis is for making that kind of statement, because it’s not the law, but um, nevermind.
It also bears mentioning that in most states, the statute of limitations on defamation is one year from the date of publication, meaning it would be difficult for McCann to sue because he waited too long.
But I guess how the law actually works is besides the point when threatening frivolous claims for libel. Matt Brown is supposed to be intimidated by this very lawyerly sounding email! That’s the point here! LIBEL SLANDER!
Of course, McCann’s response is even funnier in the context because his own blog has a piece about how to respond to online criticism, which advises people to react exactly the opposite of how McCann responded to Matt Brown. I guess McCann either didn’t read it, or perhaps he didn’t understand it…?
So what have we learned? As always… think before you stupid on the internet.
All that aside, I have some things to say about this situation myself…
Chris McCann, I think your marketing tactics are scummy. I also think you are a censorious thug for trying to threaten a young lawyer with a frivolous SLAPP suit. It is my opinion that your behavior has reflected very poorly on you as a professional, and it raises serious questions about your judgment. Your understanding of libel law is at best lacking.
Quite frankly, you’re acting like a school child whose feelings were hurt and now you’re throwing a temper tantrum. And while hurt feelings might make you very sad, and Matt Brown is a big mean bully who hurt your feelings, I’m sure you understand that none of it is actionable at law. As a lawyer, you know better, and you should be deeply ashamed of yourself for trying to engage in petty and baseless intimidation.
If these kinds of childish antics are your way of trying to build an internet presence, congratulations, you have succeeded. You have earned an online reputation for using scummy marketing tactics, engaging in censorious thuggery, and trying to intimidate young lawyers with frivolous SLAPP lawsuits because they hurt your feelings (while apparently not threatening Tannebaum with a lawsuit for, well, whatever reason…).
Oh, and it looks like you got your guest post on My Law License, too, although it’s probably not the one you wanted.
So great job, Chris, you must be very proud of yourself.
But don’t worry. Here at Philly Law Blog, we take hurt feelings and threats of frivolous LOLsuits very seriously. Just fill out the form below and we will be sure to get back to you very soon.