“There were 439 copyright lawsuits filed in the U.S.District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last year, according to research firm LexMachina. At least 373 of those cases were filed by law firms who accuse unknown defendants—through their IP addresses—of stealing copyrighted movies over the Internet”
Lawyers including our firm Antonelli Law who for years have been defending against Malibu Media LLC and other copyright infringement claims are beginning to notice a new phenomenon: The rise of the inexperienced, and perhaps incompetent, lawyers putting out ads to “settle” copyright infringement claims without the traditional confidence-building indicia such as showing their law office address, listing their attorney qualifications, or having a law firm name that actually contains an attorney’s name. They may not even show a picture of themselves.
What’s wrong with that?
A lawyer who has never tried a case, who has never been mentored by an experienced, seasoned attorney, and who may not be respected by the opposing lawyer who filed the lawsuit against you may not be able to properly represent you. The bottom line is you may be forced to accept a settlement because the inexperienced or even incompetent lawyer does not know what to do next if you do not accept Malibu Media LLC’s settlement offer. If a lawyer does not have experience taking depositions, issuing and analyzing discovery, arguing motions and taking cases through trial and appeal, they are not only weak but may be a malpractice case waiting to happen.
Why Is This Happening?
There have always been other attorneys defending these kinds of cases competently. A little competition from equally good lawyers with deep litigation experience is not only fair but it helps everyone. Believe it or not, good defense attorneys do talk to each other, sometimes sharing observations about those companies filing federal copyright infringement lawsuits.
But new lawyers have had it so bad that many are taking cases they are not qualified for, or working for disreputable firms. And then there are some lawyers who, well, may be simply greedy and will try to get any case they can regardless of their ability to represent their client.
The problem is due in large part to what the New York Times, The Atlantic and law professor Paul Campos have called “The Law School Scam”. Younger lawyers especially, and many older lawyers too, are “facing difficult realities, ranging from the sheer number of [law school] graduates who do not obtain desirable jobs to the financial hardship many find themselves in post-graduation. ”
The basic reason is that many law schools that delivered fine professional careers for many decades became overbuilt and bloated, producing far too many lawyers that the economy could not properly employ. Once the Great Recession hit, even many Ivy League law school graduates could not find good, or sometimes a legal job. Many law schools’ graduates had about a 50% chance of getting any legal job at all. A number of years later, it is not much better.
This means that many lawyers, especially much younger ones, have never been able to land a real law firm job where lawyers traditionally learned their craft, and where they have mentors, legal training, and get real world experience like depositions, drafting legal motions and briefs, and trials and appeals. Many graduating young lawyers had no choice but to hang out their own shingle or band together and become “partners” in their own law firm to share costs and cases. Usually it takes 7 or more years to be a real law firm partner. Lawyers should not become partners while they are still rookies.
This has led to a terrible public problem: inexperienced lawyers hustling for cases they have no business getting involved with because they simply do not have real lawyer experience to know what they are doing. Older lawyers complain (see especially the comments) this is causing their malpractice insurance premiums to rise even though they are claim-free, due to many malpractice claims being made against these young lawyers. Its a bit like going to see a medical doctor who never went through an internship and residency program. Would you trust him or her under the knife?
Law schools are to blame, and so is the federal government for not putting any accountability in place for the law schools to keep tuition and student loan debt in reasonable check, and to not admit more students than there are proper lawyer jobs for. This New York Times opinion discusses both sources of the problem in The Law School Debt Crisis.
How to Protect Yourself – One Easy Way
One way to see if a lawyer is experienced enough to handle a Malibu Media LLC defense case in the Northern District of Illinois on their own, without supervision under local court rules, is toenter their name in the federal court’s trial bar search here. If the lawyer is admitted to the federal trial bar of the Northern District of Illinois, they have real trial experience. You will find attorney Jeffrey Antonelli’s name there (right column on the page after search request is submitted.
In addition, you could ask the prospective lawyer whether they have any experience taking and defending depositions, taking and defending discovery, writing and arguing motions and legal briefs, and taking cases through trial and appeal. Other questions may include whether they (or any lawyer in their firm) have litigated motions to bar, motions to strike, or ever picked a jury?
Why Write About This Problem?
As we said we believe a little competition from other good lawyers is fair, but the problem of inexperienced and incompetent legal representation needs to be exposed. We’re not the first law firm to do this. But doing so helps the public as well as our own firm.
Have a Malibu Media LLC Subpoena?
If you would like to speak with attorneys who are qualified, experienced, and zealously advocate for your best interest, call Antonelli Law at 312-201-8310 or use the form below for a free consultation. Jeffrey Antonelli is admitted to the federal trial bar of the Northern District of Illinois.
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About Antonelli Law
Antonelli Law has been defending clients accused of BitTorrent copyright infringement since 2011, and Jeffrey Antonelli has been litigating cases since the beginning of his career more than 15 years ago. When Malibu Media LLC began filing federal copyright lawsuits in the Northern District of Illinois and in federal courts around the country, we were already very much prepared. This blog has covered the history of these cases and how to handle ISP letters notifying subscribers of their legal options, including motions to quash a subpoena, since 2012.