With the help of Tyler Suchman, my website is making its comeback on Google. Searching “simple assault dc” now has me in second place, up three spots from a couple of months ago. And I am back in first place for “prostitution solicitation dc,” “unlawful entry dc” and “expungement sealing dc.”
But I am troubled when I check out the webpages from some of my colleagues. Some lawyers have told me they like my website and were inspired by it in setting up their own sites. This is fine. What is not fine is that some of them have lifted language off my site and used it verbatim on theirs – in one case, whole paragraphs.
I spent a lot of time when I first set up my site drafting language that didn’t sound like what everyone else was saying. I wanted to be original and thoughtful. So I immediately recognize the language when I see it replicated on someone’s else site.
This happened once many years ago. The lawyer was a friend of mine, and I had no trouble complaining to her. She apologized and took the language down. We laughed about it afterward.
I haven’t yet decided what, if anything, I am going to say to these other lawyers. For one thing, I don’t know them as well. To accuse them of plagiarism would be uncomfortable on all sides, and I have to work with these people. I see them every day at D.C. Superior Court. Two, in most cases I have since changed the language on my own site so that there is no longer the duplication. To a certain extent anyway, the issue is now moot. Finally, I am pretty sure they did not do this on their own. In one case, for example, I know the lawyer often has the help of legal interns and students. I assume he turned the task over to them. I imagine he would be mortified if he knew what they did on his behalf.
In the meantime, my wife laughs when she hears me complain. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, she reminds me.