A marketing company doing work on behalf of the legal directory Martindale-Hubbell has acknowledged spamming the comment field on New York Attorney Eric Turkewitz’ blog.

Turkewitz blogged about the Martindale spamming. Martindale’s marketing company in a ‘heart felt’ apology left in a comment to Turkewitz’ post acknowledged they had done the spamming. Martindale remains silent.

Spamming blogs is done by shady marketing and SEO companies by leaving gibberish comments on blogs along with the name and url address of a company in the accompanying fields. It’s done to garner links to a target site (martindale-hubbell.co.uk in this case) in order to improve the target sites search engine performance.

How low does this type of marketing go? Per Turkewitz:

Is it possible to go lower than a spammer on the web? Probably, but I haven’t seen them use pornography to market the law firms that have hired them.

So what does this mean? It means that the most ‘venerable brand in the legal community’ is now using one of the lowest forms of Internet ‘marketing’ that exists: This is the cyber-equivalent of trespassing on someone’s land (their blog) for the sole purpose of plastering its advertisements. Nice.

It’s bad enough that Martindale, once viewed by me as a top shelf company, is pulling this crap. But I agree with Turkewitz that lawyers buying Martindale’s service are partly to blame for outsourcing their marketing to companies who use such tactics.

I’ve written befefore about attorneys that outsource their marketing also outsourcing their ethics. This happens when one of the bazillion attorney search search sites that have popped up are hired to do promotion for lawyers. The lack of care when it comes to ethical violations or other abhorrent conduct can happen regardless of whether the search site is large or small.

When it comes to protecting your reputation, this is one simple rule for lawyers to follow: No one cares as much about your reputation as you do. So when you entrust others to do your work, you are virtually guaranteed a lower standard of care.

Turkewitz is spot on in asking lawyers and law firms who use Martindale-Hubbell:

  1. How would you rate M-H?
  2. How do your clients feel about spammers?
  3. Since you’ve hired M-H as an agent to market for your law firm, how do you feel about your agent being a spammer?

I’m afraid many lawyers don’t give a darn. They’ll pay whatever to get the next client, no matter how shady the means and no matter that it pulls our profession down into the gutter.

But I’d hope that some you as upstanding members of our profession who care about the legal profession and its reputation would examine what you’re buying when it comes to Internet marketing and who you are buying it from.

What do they do to earn your money? Do they also believe in our legal profession and for the good things it stands for. If not, I’d hope you’d spend your money elsewhere.