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March 7, 2007

Law Students Face Employment Difficulties for Online Comments

A Washington Post article by Ellen Nakashima reports on a Yale law student who has found obtaining a job difficult because of comments posted about her online.  Law firms, the article reports, routinely Google prospective employees as part of a background check.   

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, has published in top legal journals and completed internships at leading institutions in her field. So when the Yale law student interviewed with 16 firms for a job this summer, she was concerned that she had only four call-backs. She was stunned when she had zero offers.

Though it is difficult to prove a direct link, the woman thinks she is a victim of a new form of reputation-maligning: online postings with offensive content and personal attacks that can be stored forever and are easily accessible through a Google search.

The woman and two others interviewed by The Washington Post learned from friends that they were the subject of derogatory chats on a widely read message board on AutoAdmit, run by a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania and a 23-year-old insurance agent.

...Employers, including law firms, frequently do Google searches as part of due diligence checks on prospective employees. According to a December survey by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy research organization, roughly half of U.S. hiring officials use the Internet in vetting job applications.

The woman and two others interviewed by The Washington Post learned from friends that they were the subject of derogatory chats on a widely read message board on AutoAdmit, run by a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania and a 23-year-old insurance agent. The women spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution online.

Law students should be very careful about what they post (even in forums that appear private) but it is difficult, of course, to prevent others from writing about you. 

What can law schools do to reduce risks for law students because of unsavory characterizations online?

Anupam Chander

March 7, 2007 in Serving students | Permalink

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SOCIAL NETWORKING DANGERSTop Law Student blog (here and here) has posted about the dangers of posting personal content online via social networking sites such as Myspace. Many employers now google an applicant in search of unprofessional pictures, comm... [Read More]

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Comments

Thought people might be interested in a link to the article you speak of:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/06/AR2007030602705.html

Austin

Posted by: Austin Groothuis | Mar 7, 2007 4:04:09 PM

Personally I wouldn't want to work for a firm that would rely on innuendo when vetting potential associates. I understand using Google to get some background on employees, but this certainly is a double-standard at work. Should I assess Milberg Weiss on the basis of this - http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/11/13/8393127/index.htm - hit piece? Would any reasonable attorney judge a client on the basis of comments made about them online?

Posted by: Erik Schmidt | Mar 7, 2007 10:42:05 PM

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Posted by: vijay sen | Mar 21, 2007 4:50:24 PM

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