You might be wondering “can someone post my information online?” Around the 2010s, many lawyers were filing lawsuits against directory companies in the USA. This was over the online directories’ use of the lawyer’s profile on the website without permission. Companies like Avvo, Total Attorneys, and Nolo, which are worth between $6 million and 1 billion dollars, would create profiles for lawyers.
It didn’t matter if they wanted it or not. The lawyer could go on the website and “claim” their profile. However, the lawyer could not delete the information.
The website would create a profile for each lawyer with their contact information. Some of the websites would also offer a rating for the lawyer. Some of the lawyers had been disciplined by the State Bar, and the lawyers were upset this information was on the website. Avvo and Google say this information is public knowledge. This information is not proprietary. Someone can post a true review of your legal services on Google, and you can’t do anything about it.
Let’s say you created a separation agreement for Joe Smith, a made-up client. Mr. Smith thought it would cost $2000, and you ended up charging him $3000. Maybe you told him, maybe you didn’t. Either way, Mr. Smith demands a refund, and you say no. Joe then goes on Google and says ” Lawyer X is a terrible lawyer who is dishonest with their billing. Avoid them at all costs”
Some lawyers have tried to sue clients for this. Vancouver lawyer won a $1 judgment against a client for a negative client review. Judges are already overworked and understaffed. They get annoyed when unimportant matters are brought in front of them. Lawyers want to focus on massive lawsuits and divorce cases.
Disclose Personal Information | Canadian Privacy Law
Avvo got so tired of having to respond to requests to delete profiles or make changes, that it announced it will ignore all requests. ClearWay Law has taken the same approach. It costs time and money to update a website. We are not available to make changes to lawyers’ profiles. Further, under Canadian law, we have no obligation to do so. Lawyers like reading case law, so we have included a few examples in this article.
There were lawyers who used the Total Attorneys model, which is very similar to ClearWay Law’s, who got sued. They all won their lawsuits. They were selling leads to lawyers for $65/lead, where-as ClearWay Law sells them for $50. The Connecticut Grievance Committee ruled that Total Attorney did not violate any ethical rules.
A lawyer filed a complaint against every lawyer that used the Total Attorney service. After Total Attorney won the lawsuits and complaints, they went on to sell to Internet Brands. Total Attorneys had to spend $1.5 million on defending the baseless complaints and lawsuits. Of course, the complainants also spent a lot of time working on the lawsuits.
Office Of The Privacy Commissioner and Personal Information
Companies that collect, use, and discloses information without permission often get into trouble. Examples of this are Facebook, which has become a villain of collecting information and selling it for personal gain.
Those that sued Avvo lost on First Amendment grounds. In Canada, Freedom of expression in Canada is covered by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, there is freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication. Anyone who tries to censor opinion or expression will be doomed to fail. Providing information to help people easily find it is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Crain’s Chicago Business (sub. req.) reported. A Florida lawyer sued Avvo in 2010, alleging Avvo engages in “punitive, coercive and manipulative business practices.” That suit was transferred to Washington state, where Avvo is based, and dismissed in 2012 under Washington’s anti-SLAPP law.
John Henry Browne and Alan Wenokur tried to sue Avvo as well. The judge wrote, “Neither the nature of the information provided nor the language used on the Web site would lead a reasonable person to believe that the ratings are a statement of actual fact.” Again, Avvo was simply providing information that is available elsewhere on the internet. It was protected by the First Amendment. If it was in Canada, it would have been protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Wall Street Journal praised companies like Avvo for trying to provide transparency. The legal profession has always been old school and resistant to change.
Post My Information Online | Defamation Lawsuits
Keep in mind, the media and bloggers have the right to write content about you without approval. They need to make sure the information is accurate. The media can post something negative about you, as long as they made efforts to ensure it is true.
Libel is an untrue defamatory statement that is typed. Defamation is also false, and it causes damages to someone. Let’s say we were to post “Lawyer X is a con artist, and we highly suggest you don’t hire them. If you do, they will likely steal your money.” That would be defamation, as it’s our opinion, and not based on fact.
See the notes below about ClearWay Law:
- We do not disclose personal information about people that contact us
- Any data collected is protected and only shared with lawyers
- Data collection use and disclosure follows all Canadian lawyers
- We collect information about potential clients and sell it to lawyers
People take public information and create pages with it all the time. See below for an example of pages that Alistair Vigier/ClearWay Law is on without approval:
Post My Information Online | Laws In Canada
In conclusion, people have the right to post publicly available information on the internet. They must make sure the information does not defame you and is true. We will never post anything to defame any lawyer. Further, all information will be taken from the lawyer’s websites. Also, the information will be taken from the law society’s websites. Therefore, it is considered to be true.
Once we have the resources, you will be able to log into the website and update the information on your profile. This will mean that you can make sure that your website, phone number, and practice areas are accurate. As such, do not ask us to make any changes to your lawyer profile.
If you want to hire a lawyer to see if someone can “post my information online,” then reach out to us. We can connect you with a privacy lawyer in your province.