In Which a LawSpammer Calls Me "[FNAME]"

In the email exchange below, I have changed identifying information. Replacements are in boldface. The use of [FNAME] and [BPNAME] is in the original. The email came to me titled "Quick Message for *[FNAME]*."

Hey *[FNAME]* – The reason I'm reaching out to you is because I recently came across *[BPNAME]* and thought you might be able to give me some valuable feedback — I recently (re)launched a new community for lawyers and law students called LegalMarketeeringPit.

A bit of background…My name is Mork the Marketeer and I'm the founder of PonyHub, the largest online community of pony professionals with over 4 million hits per month. For LegalMarketingPit, we already have 1,000s of visitors per month with some awesome bloggers (law students and practicing lawyers), but we have a LONG way to go! I want to make sure to fulfill our primary mission: to build the most entertaining and useful legal community online.

It's not easy starting an online community from scratch, so I hope you will take a few seconds to check it out and let me know what you think! Any thoughts? If you can hit "reply" and tell me just one piece of advice, I will be forever grateful. :-) Or you can give me call and tell me in person (# below).

Thanks so much and talk soon!
Mork the Marketeer
Chief Pony & Founder, LegalMarketingPit

ps – If you want to help out our team and become a blogger or syndicate your content from *[BPNAME]* onto LegalMarketingPit, please shoot me a quick note and we can try to work together

pps – We also send new members a free legal compensation report, so we hope you'll join us and help other members in our community by sharing your wisdom / expertise as well.

What is LegalMarketingPit

You are receiving this email as part of being a contributing author for LegalMarketingPit

[Unsubscribe and contact information omitted]

Dear Mork:

You say you will be forever grateful if I offer you just one piece of advice.

Here it is.

1. If you are going to spam, get competent help, so you don't wind up sending spam addressing [FNAME] and talking about their post [BPNAME].

2. Don't spam in the first place. Lawyers who are worth knowing hate it, and lawyers who don't hate it aren't worth knowing.

3. If you spam lawbloggers indiscriminately, sooner or later you are going to spam a lawblogger who writes to a large audience about scummy marketing, and who likes to name names. See, e.g.

Technically that's three pieces of advice. Sorry.

Ken, thanks for the response.

1. That was me, so maybe I should fire myself?

2. We are a small business trying to get more lawyers on board. Promise there is a human right here trying to build a similar resource for lawyers and law students like we did for PonyHub.

3. I hear you – but we did painstakingly research hundred of law blogs to send our intro message to. If I had sent one by one the exact same message, would that have made it less scummy?

Either way, thanks for your feedback – I'd be annoyed as well.



I don't know what kind of "painstaking research" you did. It wasn't painstaking enough to reveal that you targeted a blog that's part of a group of lawbloggers who call out sleazy marketing and who spend a lot of time arguing about how the ethos of legal marketeers is bad for the profession.

I'll be interested to see who else received this, to further evaluate the claim of careful selection.

Right now, quite frankly, I'm just deciding whether to write about it or not. It's exactly the sort of thing I'd normally write about.

I've omitted the identifying details because — hell, I don't know why. Because I felt like it.

Mork is not in the same category as Mickey, a marketeer for an established law firm with a reputation that could be harmed. Mork works for a web site that is nominally about the law but actually about marketeering.


1. What kind of lawyer would write for a site that promotes itself with incompetent spam like this? Would you want to hire a lawyer like that, any more than you would hire a lawyer who markets through comment spam? Would you heed any career or legal advice you got at such a place?

2. Scott Greenfield makes the point that it is the role of older lawyers who care about the profession to speak truth — mean truth — to marketeering-drivel-addled newbies. Will LegalMarketingHub have anyone to speak truth to newbies?

3. Do you think I should have named and shamed here? I can see both sides of the question. On the one hand, the quality of mercy is not strained and so forth. On the other hand — one of the only ways we are going to deter scummy marketeering conduct, including spamming, is if more and more people start to name and shame marketeers, so that engaging in such conduct carries risks.

4. What else can lawyers do, in the online marketing age, to push the profession away from insipid crap and towards client service?

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Christopher says

    I'm working on my masters degree in marketing. I'm the one who mentioned my presentation on twitter. We call out terrible marketing like this all the time. I speak on behalf of everyone trying to ethically work in marketing when I say call the guy out, make sure he really understands that this is unacceptable.

  2. says

    If I may be excused for recycling a comment I made at another blog, I believe this parable has your answer:

    One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a young blogger picking something up and throwing it into the water. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

    The youth replied, “Drowning marketing spammers. Email systems are wide open and the anti-spam software leaks. If I don’t destroy them, all the blogs will die.”

    “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are thousands of marketing spammers? You can’t make a difference!”

    After listening politely, the blogger bent down, picked up another marketing spammer, ripped its head off, and threw the pieces into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

  3. Jb says

    BLOOD! Give us BLOOD! Or at least names. I need a self-righteous outrage fix to tide me over until the debate tonight.

  4. says

    I for one would like more detail on the 'resource for lawyers and law students … PonyHub' – I just need to know that I am not alone in my pony law fixation.

  5. says

    >Nope. It's neither Pit nor Hub.

    I guess I also misinterpreted that paragraph. I figured that was an "accidental" slip of the name (given its similarity to LegalMarketeeringPit) and headed over to LegalMarketingHub's site to view their shame.

  6. Nicholas Weaver says

    For spammers: Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy SIR!

    Seriously, naming and shaming requires NAMING to shame. If you really want to stop this class of marketeering spam/scam, you must name and shame the actual actors.

  7. Owen says

    I agree with the general consensus. It helps that this is the single clearest example of blatant market spam mailing that I have seen. Can't get much more sloppy, incompetent, and indiscriminate than [FNAME], [BPNAME]. Aren't these precisely the qualities that the Name and Shame game was made to deal with? What is the saving grace here that prevents him from being called out?

  8. says

    How odd. I just received a very similar email:

    Sent: 10/22/2012 3:59:57 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
    Subj: Quick Message for *[FNAME]*

    Hey *[FNAME]* – The reason I'm reaching out to you is because I recently came across *[BPNAME]* and thought you might be able to give me some valuable feedback — I recently (re)launched a new community for lawyers and law students called

    A bit of background…My name is Patrick Curtis and I'm the founder of Wall Street Oasis, the largest online community of finance professionals with over 4 million hits per month. For, we already have 1,000s of visitors per month with some awesome bloggers (law students and practicing lawyers), but we have a LONG way to go! I want to make sure to fulfill our primary mission: to build the most entertaining and useful legal community online.

    It's not easy starting an online community from scratch, so I hope you will take a few seconds to check it out and let me know what you think! Any thoughts? If you can hit "reply" and tell me just one piece of advice, I will be forever grateful. :-) Or you can give me call and tell me in person (# below).

    Thanks so much and talk soon!
    Patrick Curtis
    Chief Monkey & Founder,

    ps – If you want to help out our team and become a blogger or syndicate your content from *[BPNAME]* onto JDO, please shoot me a quick note and we can try to work together

    pps – We also send new members a free legal compensation report, so we hope you'll join us and help other members in our community by sharing your wisdom / expertise as well.

    What is

    Since I received mine after you had already explained to Mork that it was not only a bad thing to do, but monumentally buttheaded to leave the fields blank, I'm sure it can't possibly be the same marketing spam email from the same marketeer spammer.

  9. says

    And an #LMATech attendee strikes again. You must name and shame every time. EVERY. TIME.

    I checked and, damn… ponyhub dot com is already taken.

  10. Patrick Curtis says

    Hey guys, this is Patrick. I just wanted to say that I have sent out an apology e-mail which will be out shortly assuming you havent already unsubscribed (I wouldn't blame you). Either way, yes, this was monumentally buttheaded to mess up the merges, but does that make this type of marketing evil.

    It was targeted to specific legal blogger that we respected (like Popehat) and were asking for an informed opinion about our community. If I had e-mailed all these blogs one by one the same message asking for feedback, would that have been poor marketing as well (Christopher, interested in your response to that)?

    And Popehat, I'm not a lawyer. I'm trying to build a similar community for law students and lawyers like my team has done over at Wall Street Oasis.


  11. says


    The truth is that I might not have been annoyed enough to write about you had you not lied to me in your response.

    You did not "painstakingly research" jack shit. You got a list of legal blogs and you spammed them. If you had conducted even the most minimal amount of due diligence, you would have known that it would be incredibly foolish to spam me or Scott with this shit.

    And now you're lying to me again. You've come to my website to lie to me. You spam was not "targeted to specific legal blogger [sic] that we respected (like Popehat)." If you knew this blog, or Scott's blog, well enough to form anything like respect for us, you would have known that it would be an act of stupendous moronism to spam us with this. No one with the merest passing familiarity with either blog would spam us unless they were too fucking stupid to breathe without technological assistance.

    There's no way to put this kindly: I hate you and what you represent, Patrick. Scott and I work hard to write about issues we care about, often in a substantive way. You see us as either easy marks or as something you can leverage to make money.

    And your website sucks.


  12. Aenigma says

    And going to the home page with a large "confirm your email to access the homepage now"? NOPE

  13. Chris says

    Patrick, a blog ken mentions occasionally, The Bloggess, has a post that I don't care to find right now on a great marketing move. Specifically, for the movie paranorman, she was sent a box with a coffin, and a figure of one of the characters. This is marketing done specifically to her, because of her interest in that sort of art, which she was grateful enough for she posted a blog on it. The hundreds of positive views is probably worth more than the negative views from this article.

    Marketing is an effective tool to pro the companies, and yes, you do need to reach a lot of people. There are better ways to go about it. I'm available for consulting if you'd like some tips.

  14. PhilG says

    And your website sucks.

    Damn Ken, at least send him some burn cream for that.

    ps I
    pps love
    ppps it

  15. Chris says

    I'm willing to bet ken isn't so upset by the face that you used an excel mailer to send emails, and is more upset that you spammed them at all. It's a poor use of time to copy and paste sure. But tailoring a specific message to individual blogs, ones that might work for you, instead of just googling "law blog" and copying the email addresses of the owners (to be fair, you could have googled any number of things, ken does posts on that as well)mould have saved you slight embarrassment, and may have led to positive results.

  16. says

    Chris, to be fair, we get a ton of spam. Press releases, requests of all manner, and spam. Our spam gets spam. Not that anyone else doesn't, but because of the blogs, it never stops.

    This one stood out because of the open field, whereas it otherwise would have just been deleted. If we started writing about every bit of spam, that would be all we did and all we wrote about. There wouldn't be time for anything else.

    But we also, occasionally, get something that actually grabs our interest, like the coffin sent to the Bloggess. This costs money, however, and requires thought. Few spammers have a pot to piss in or care to think at all. It's not that we don't appreciate quality marketing, but almost no one on the interwebz has the wherewithal to do it.

    Hell, Patrick can't even be bothered to personalize his emails, and you think there's a chance this operation, run out the trunk of a station wagon, is going to send us some decent swag? Ain't happening.

  17. says

    Well how exciting!! I actually received a spam email that Popehat received and wrote about. I know I've made it now.

    Mine was slightly modified as I'm still a law student and was nominally targeted to me as the president of a student organization. That just means to me that my school's website was scraped, as the only student emails on the site are organization leaders. And here I thought Mr. Curtis was interested in opinions specifically from pro-choice law students!

  18. Shane says

    I love your writing one quibble … please use newbs instead of newbies.


    1. You sound like an old person that is trying to desperately sound cool.

    2. Newbies sounds like boobies.

    That is all :)

  19. Shane says

    Wow, that is the spammiest website I have ever seen (Oh wait the link farms are prolly more spammy).

    This is the first thing someone sees when they go to that site:
    How Much $Bling Bling$ Do Lawyers Really Make?

    Really? Really?

    A 10 year plan undergrad might find this site kewl but a real honest to gawd money making lawyer? I think not.

    A banana for an icon? I am sure with a half rack that might invoke some humor.

    Ken I am mad at you. You needed to name names and turn the snark knob to 11. This site is pathetic, and the debate is tonight and Jb is right. We need some self righteous indignation to throw around.

  20. Gideon says

    I can disprove your theory: I got this email too. I'm one of the big boys now, right? RIGHT?!

  21. Joe Pullen says

    <Bwhaaa. I love this post. Thanks for the laugh. We get tons of spam here at our business as well. The spam filter is pretty good but every once in a while one sneaks past. I’m no lawyer, but l like Ken, every once in a while I cannot resist the urge to poke fun at one of these hapless idiots.

    We have an excellent opportunity for an apprentice applicant to join a rapidly expanding company. An at home Key Account Manager Position (Ref: 19452-007/5HR) is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to work in the comfort of their own home. This is a genuine offer and not to be confused with scams!

    Riiiiggght because blanket emails to a senior executive’s corporate address could not possibly be confused with a scam? Besides, working at home and goofing off all day – I’m totally down with that.

    The successful candidate must have the ability to handle calls efficiently whilst maintaining the highest levels of customer service and being courteous. You must have the ability to type and talk at the same time to customers, as you will be taking customer details over the phone and inputting data onto our company database.

    Well shit, I’m screwed. I am completely unable to talk and type at the same time. Ask my secretary. I’m sure she would find the idea thoroughly amusing.

    Requirements: computer with Internet access, valid email address, good typing skills. If you fit the above description and meet the lequirements, please apply to this ad stating your location.

    I’ve no idea what leguirments are. Is this about having great legs? My legs used to be great but they’ve gone a bit downhill lately. They’re a bit gnarly actually and I’m pretty certain they would scare the fish if you know what I mean. The wife still appreciates them but well, frankly I’m not sure you would.

    You will be processing orders from your computer. How much you earn is up to you. The average is in the region of US$600- US$750.00 per week, depending on whether you work full or part time.

    Fantastic! I would like to earn $1M annually paid in advance. I also only want to work 5 hours a week. I mean seriously how else could you expect me to maintain my tan and my golf game?

    If you would like more information, please contact us stating where you are located and our job reference number – 19452-007/5HR. Please only SERIOUS applicants. Our contacts:

    Thank You!

    Well John, I’m clearly not the right candidate for you but I know who is. His name is Charles Carreon and he lives in Las Vegas. He may be looking for some extra cash right about now. . . . . . .

    Alas, Johh’s spam bot wrote back.

  22. JRM says

    I believe ParaNorman sent those to dozens of blogs. (IIRC, and I probably don't, Scalzi, Wheaton, Coulton, Bloggess, and others commented on the awesomeness of the package.)

    In each case, they addressed the bloggers directly and talked about something the blogger did. It was clear that the ParaNorman folks really did do painstaking research and were looking to be cool to cool people. It's not a question of volume; high volume is fine if there's care taken with each individual inquiry.

    At least, that's the way I'd feel. I concede that it seems unwise to send Ken even a well-considered marketing pitch at the outset. The flamethrowers he uses burn hot.

  23. John David Galt says

    Let me give you what I think is going on in these marketers' minds.

    To a layperson like myself, attorneys are the most opaque of all professions, keeping even more knowledge hidden/proprietary than even doctors. This means that most people hiring one have next to no clue about what they need or what it's going to cost, especially for a task as open-ended as defense against a lawsuit or felony charge, which are about the only reasons most of us would feel the need to hire one. In gaming terms they are wizards — people respect them, but try to avoid needing them because they're temperamental as well as expensive and you don't want to be the target of one.

    Naturally, the same sort of intelligent non-lawyers who invent high-tech "solutions" for other kinds of problems are going to see this situation as one that can be made better for everybody by the right kind of marketing platform. And I wish it were true.

    Perhaps this will solve itself as the upcoming generation gain experience with the Internet before they even enter high school. Hopefully they won't be so protected that they fail to learn the lesson of what a pain spam is, well before they're in a position to generate any.

  24. Dan in CO says

    You did not "painstakingly research" jack shit.I intend to use this phrase as much as possible at work tomorrow; it has a nice ring to it.

  25. says

    Wow, I was getting this spam before it was cool. I'm totally hipster to this marketing spam:

    Subject: Contact Form Submission from Patrick Curtis
    X-PHP-Script: for
    Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2012 22:46:24 +0000
    From: "<"
    X-Priority: 3
    X-Mailer: PHPMailer 5.2.1 (
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
    X-Identified-User: {} {sentby:program running on server}

    Name: Patrick Curtis


    Comments: hi Keith, congrats on passing 2 years.

    My name is Patrick and I'm contacting you because I thought we might be able to work together somehow.

    I founded Wall Street Oasis, one of the largest online communities for finance professionals and students trying to break in with over 4 million pageviews per month, and I recently launched with a similar goal in mind for the legal world.

    Having stumbled across your Blawg, I thought you might enjoy writing for our community as well.

    Was wondering if you'd like to be a contributing author and/or if you'd allow us to syndicate some of your content? Or if there are other ways you think we could work together, I'm also open to that as well.

    Enjoy your weekend,

  26. Jess says

    @Keith – even MORE people who got the exact same email. To which I say to Patrick Curtis – liar liar pants on fire!

  27. says

    Regarding #3: Never hesitate to post details. If they are scum then it will be deserved to call them out on it. If they are not scum, that will come out in the wash and you'll have given them some publicity. Either way, emails sent to you are not the private property of those sending it regardless off what sort of legal gobbledygook they decide to put at the end of them. Once they hit send, you can post it anywhere you damn well please without qualms. IMO.

  28. Ben says

    Spammers are like door to door salesmen: They don't really produce much of value to the average consumer, and the one person who responds yes makes the hundred people they annoy to get to that person all worthwhile.

    In all honesty, I don't see that naming and shaming spammers is going to do much to discourage them. It may impose a cost, ( or maybe not – ) but, since they have nothing else to offer – it's still going to be the strategy they execute. Besides, there are far too many of them to keep track of in any practical sense anyway.

    The problem might be reduced by naming and shaming those who write for them, who use them as part of their marketing. – The people who defect. But even then, how many lawyers is someone going to remember from their day to day reading? Are they going to know where to look up these name and shame lists if they're looking for a lawyer?

    The only thing I can really think of is to publish information on how people can find better lawyers, and encourage people in that line. Do lawyers keep records of wins and losses? Are there examples of their past work I can look at? I'd trust Ken a fair way having read his blog….

  29. says

    Sometimes, reading the comments is just as good as reading the post…

    Ken, I thought initially that this was troll spam, considering the inclusion of "Pony Hub"… but since other people have gotten the e-mail, I guess it was too much to hope for.


    Dear Patrick/Mork:

    Next time you spam someone, you might try spamming an adult toy store. They might at least take pity on you and send you back something useful, like some lube. If you're given an option, I recommend a silicone base. Because clearly, a cluebat didn't help.

  30. says

    I didn't get this email, but I did get an amusing 419 letter the other day. Instead of "Prince John Vaguelyethnicname" or whatever, the spammer was "9grs53ijl24". I'm serious. It signed the letter like that, and used it in the body.

  31. Nicholas Weaver says

    Ken: Now you see why I say NO MERCY, with the lame reply.

    Mercy just encourages these slimeballs, but public shaming, such as observing that "JD Oasis" (aka "") and "Wall Street Oasis" are run by sub-neanderthalic twatwaffles (who, BTW, have a third-class sleazy web design that looks so 1999), combined with your Google juice, should hopefully act as a lesson for any further marketing dweeboids. Nothing like heads on pikes to discourage others…

    Overall, if there is one thing we've learned in fighting spam: you need to figure out the spammer's business model and hit em where it counts: disrupt the business model to stop the spam, not the other way around.

    The pharma and pirated software spammers have been hit hard in the wallet, with many already going out of business (*do the happy dance*).

    The same thing applies to legal marketing spammers/scammers. For these marketing spammers, they rely on reputation: ensuring that they only gain negative reputation hurts them economically, and disrupts their business model.


  32. andrews says

    I suppose it would be redundant to point out that their registrar is Godaddy and that their registration name is Domains By Proxy, LLC.

  33. Trebuchet says

    Only reason I can think of NOT to name and shame: From the comments, at least a couple of Popehat readers have made their way to Patrick's website, giving him traffic he wouldn't otherwise have had. Now he can turn around and advertise the uptick in his traffic.

    Also: If only dealing with "Rachel from Cardmember Services" was so easy. She just interrupted my nap with her umpteenth "final courtesy call". Which I'm pretty sure was not final and definitely not courteous.

  34. htom says

    I have this dream where someone a spammer loves (look, it's a dream) dies, and thousands of us, all strangers, show up and offer him business cards for life insurance companies.

  35. John David Galt says

    @Ben: I agree with you, the best solution would be to create a better way for laypeople to find good lawyers and know how good they are. To date, the only sites I've seen come close are the state bar associations, and even those are pretty lacking in information.

    My ideal site would list, not just name, contact info, and "in good standing" (or not) but how long a lawyer has been practicing (in all states, not just the one whose bar association site this is), number and kinds of cases he's tried, and win/loss record.

    It would also be nice if some kind of price comparison data were there, though that's a hard problem since the important services they provide are not at all standardized (and those that are tend to be things like setting up a corporation, which any layman willing to do some research can probably do OK without a lawyer).

  36. says

    Do the spammers ever address you as "Mister Hat"? Cause Pope Hat is actually a potential proper name with decent precident behind it.

    I was put in mind of this by the lyric "By the way, which one's Pink" (from a Pink Floyd song) combined with some of the odd name constructions I have experienced lately.

  37. perlhaqr says

    No one with the merest passing familiarity with either blog would spam us unless they were too fucking stupid to breathe without technological assistance.

    So, seriously man, I love you.

    You've posted in the recent past about your new Amazon affiliate program that you're using to try and turn a few bucks to offset the cost of having Popehat hosted.

    My life would seriously be lessened if you went off the air. If you have a straight donation page, link it and I'll donate. Or if you're ever totally hard up for money, computer dorkery, or, uh, metal fabrication (sorry, the list of things I have available is pretty short, really) send me an email, and I'll help any way I can.