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Nefarious LGM

[ 138 ] May 21, 2016 |

clare

Thomas A. Clare, Esq., has sent a letter to a documentary filmmaker, who is working on a film about recent law school graduates:

I write on behalf of my client, The InfiLaw System (“InfiLaw”), regarding your inquiry into
interviews with Florida Coastal School of Law officials for a documentary you are making. I write to caution you as you proceed with fact-finding and information gathering associated with your planned documentary.

Prior reporting on the issues you plan to address, including law school attrition rates and student success, has been plagued by gross misinformation, factual errors, and a general misuse and distortion of available data and analysis. This is especially true as they have been applied to InfiLaw schools such as Florida Coastal. Individuals, such as Paul Campos, have distorted facts and data and engaged in nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics in order to accomplish a false agenda attacking law school admissions and career advancement policies. As such, I caution you to carefully assess any information and facts you gather from Mr. Campos and any other purported “authorities” on law school success metrics and the risks and rewards of attending law school in this day and age. InfiLaw and its affiliated schools will carefully analyze and assess any statements made about them and will not be afraid to pursue legal recourse to protect its reputation against any false and reckless statements.

In addition, InfiLaw requests that you notify me immediately upon any decisions to include any references to or subject matter about InfiLaw or any of its affiliate schools in your documentary, and provide InfiLaw the opportunity to review and comment on them prior to any public dissemination.

Preparatory to anything else, why do so many lawyers write so atrociously? For instance, what does it mean to say that “individuals have distorted facts and data and engaged in nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics in order to accomplish a false agenda attacking law school admissions and career advancement policies?”

I mean I get the general idea, which is that I’m supposedly lying about the scamminess of scam outfits like Infilaw, but good grief what prose! Note this and similar verbal atrocities are committed in the course of a one-page letter, which Thomas A. Clare, summa cum laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, probably charged his clients (which is to say the bill is being paid by Infilaw law students, and ultimately U.S. taxpayers) a couple of thousand bucks to excrete.

Anyway, as to the substance of that charge, two years ago I wrote an article that, among other things, pointed out that the Infilaw schools were slashing admissions standards drastically in order to keep a stream – more like a water cannon — of federal educational loan money flowing into the coffers of Sterling Partners. I predicted this would lead to a collapse in bar passage rates for the graduates of those schools. This is exactly what has since happened:

Bar-passage rates at the InfiLaw schools are now in a free fall. (The following percentages are for first-time takers of the July exam in the schools’ home states.) Florida Coastal’s bar-passage rate has fallen from 76 percent to 59 percent, Charlotte’s has fallen from 78 percent to 47 percent, and Arizona Summit’s has gone from 75 percent to an astonishing 30.6 percent.

This collapse has taken place despite the fact that, according to allegations in a lawsuit filed by a former Arizona Summit administrator, all three schools have been offering money to graduates who the schools identified as being at especially high risk for failure, to get them to hold off on taking the bar exam. Indeed, in July Arizona Summit’s dean confirmed that she had called various graduates the night before the exam, imploring them to consider the “opportunity” to withdraw from the test, in exchange for a $10,000 living stipend, that would be paid to them if they enrolled in enhanced bar-preparation courses provided by the school.

In other words, you might say there’s a trend in the data. For example here’s the bar passage rate for Arizona Summit graduates who are first time takers of the Arizona bar:

2012: 75%
2013: 70.5%
2014: 54.7%
2015: 40.3%
2016: 38.1% (February)

And it’s going to get worse, since over the last three years the Infilaw schools have thrown what little was left of their admissions standards out the window, and of course those victims people haven’t taken the bar yet.

Some other notes and questions:

*A few weeks ago the ABA passed new accreditation standards in regard to bar passage which, if they are actually enforced, will put the Infilaw schools – and quite a few others – out of business.

*My most vociferous critics in the law school world are very fond of threatening to sue people, but they never threaten to sue me. Mysteriously, even though according to their counsel I’ve been egregiously libeling the good folks at Infilaw and Sterling Partners, I’ve never heard from Thomas Clare, et. al., Instead these people direct their energies toward trying to get other people to avoid disseminating the poisonous fruits of my “nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics.” (Those tactics consist of analyzing publicly-available data and then asking interested parties to comment on them).

*Speaking of libel, is Infilaw libeling me via its consigliere? The claims about me in this letter are false and defamatory, so do I have a cause of action against any or all of:

(a) Infilaw
(b) Sterling Partners
(c) Thomas Clare, and/or Clare Locke, a limited liability corporation?

Please identify the legal ISSUE, state the relevant RULE, provide an APPLICATION, and reach a CONCLUSION.

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Comments (138)

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  1. efgoldman says:

    I wrote an article that, among other things, pointed out that the Infilaw schools were slashing admissions standards drastically in order to keep a stream – more like a water cannon — of federal educational loan money flowing into the coffers of Sterling Partners. I predicted this would lead to a collapse in bar passage rates for the graduates of those schools. This is exactly what has since happened:

    Facts have a well-known liberal bias in politics, why shouldn’t it be so in educational reporting too?
    OTOH IANAL, what do I know.

  2. Ghostship says:

    Preparatory to anything else, why do so many lawyers write so atrociously?

    Don’t you answer your on question?

    probably charged his clients (which is to say the bill is being paid by Infilaw law students, and ultimately U.S. taxpayers) a couple of thousand bucks to excrete

    Because if he wrote it in clear, concise plain English, he, and others like him, wouldn’t be able to charge so much for so little. For example:

    you defame Infilaw and they will sue you and our costs will bankrupt you

    To which the reply should be:

    “We refer you to the reply in Arkell v. Pressdram .”

  3. Cervantes says:

    “Individuals, such as Paul Campos, have distorted facts and data and engaged in nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics in order to accomplish a false agenda attacking law school admissions and career advancement policies.”

    Probably not substantive enough to be libelous, to the extent it is semantically meaningful. What is nefarious and inappropriate, or distorted, is in the eye of the beholder. But also not substantive enough to constitute an actual rebuttal to your allegations.

  4. Shakezula says:

    Congratulations!

    I can’t speak to whether it’s libel beyond noting a reporter would write something liken “Infilaw alleged that the Nefarious Paul Campos engaged in etc,” before quoting Clare.

  5. kped says:

    You must change your byline to “The Nefarious Paul Campos”. It has to be done.

    But Jesus…thanks for putting those bar passage rates up again! Those are horrid. These guys deserve to be taken down.

  6. BGinCHI says:

    Stay out of InfiLaw, Campos Lebowski.

    /”InfiLaw” sounds like the name ISIS would give its legal arm if it were run by infidels

  7. Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I was thinking this post would be about the neoliberal Hillary loving shills at LGM who helped get Matt Bruenig fired.

    • Mike in DC says:

      Mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it seems heavy handed. On the other, lots of people who have dealt with Breunig (and Greenwald, for that matter ) will affirm that he’s kind of an abrasive asshole. Welcome to the working world, Matt.

        • Mike in DC says:

          Jesus Christ, he got 24 grand out of that GoFundMe. It’s just sad when overprivileged people don’t even realize they’re overprivileged, and think they’re still proles.

      • It sounds like Demos asked him to tone it down and he refused. That could be a cover story, but it sounds plausible to me. He seems like the kind of guy who is convinced that being a vicious asshole is “keeping it 100”, “speaking truth to power”, etc.

        • Mike in DC says:

          And he had the balls to start a GoFundMe page for his poor oppressed self. Or, you know, you could go do document review for a living like a quarter of your fellow JDs, you fucking fuck.

            • manual says:

              So he has a government job and his wife has a good job at WaPo. This does change my thoughts on this. I have one job. If I lose it im fucked, like everyone else.

              • Mike in DC says:

                But, hey, if you have a fanbase, you can brazenly ask for money online and get it, without disclosing whether you have other sources of income.

                • manual says:

                  Yeah, I will admit to being dispositionally with Bruenig on politics, policy and against many of the fake progressives who he fights with (dont endorse his style).

                  But this is shady. Between his wife and his NLRB attorney salary they are likely over 150k and the Demos blogging thing probably never brought in much income and certainly did not bring in benefits.

                  I live right near them at way less. Not much sympathy here.

                • Ronan says:

                  Right, Well here’s his pay

                  https://www.federalpay.org/employees/national-labor-relations-board/bruenig-matthew

                  Iirc he said he would lose 1/3 of his income from demos gig,(which seems plausible) and with a child coming was looking to cover the gap in income. He then shut it down pretty promptly when it reached that level, although he could have easily enough got three figures.
                  I didn’t donate personally. There are better things to donate to, but if others want to, so what? They’re adults and can do as they please with their money.

                  This is all obviously irrelevant to the larger situation . He seemed to be good at what he did , he was not noticeably any more vicious or aggressive than any of the number of people who turned against him , and the situation itself was pretty trivial
                  What happened was a number of people in prominent positions waged a campaign to get him fired, and demos acted because he had attacked a powerful figure in the progressive think tank industry. Not sure why anyone would think this a positive outcome

                • he was not noticeably any more vicious or aggressive than any of the number of people who turned against him

                  Come on, this is ridiculous. I have no love for Joan Walsh but if she ever did anything as over the top as personally calling someone a geriatric scumbag who starved poor mothers for personal gain, I will eat my fucking hat.

                • Ronan says:

                  I don’t know about Walsh specifically. I think the likes of Doyle, kendizor and even de long (who all expressed varying degrees of support for the firing) are capable of such rhetoric. In context I think it was fairly harmless, and not out of the ordinary for that milieu. It wouldn’t lead me to think particularly highly of breunig as a public intellectual, but it’s not so bad as to negate his good points.
                  More broadly I think his (Twitter) opponents are a collection of hypocrites(though, and being serious, not you. You’re always thoughtful and never viscous, so I’d put a good by of weight in your opinion. But I think we’d just disagree on what is and is not out of bounds)

                • I think the problem I have with what he said is that it’s wrong in addition to being vituperative. If she actually had worked to destroy AFDC, his rage would be understandable, but she didn’t. I think the combination of the attack on her age, the inaccuracy of the substantive claim, the general insulting language, and his apparent lack of willingness to change his behavior in any way makes Demos more than justified in deciding they don’t want him communicating on their behalf anymore.

                  If he had simply tweeted “Neera Tanden is a neoliberal scumbag whose preferred policies will make people starve”, I would be much closer to your position on this (although I would still think Demos was within their rights).

                  (And thanks.)

                • manual says:

                  Ronan –

                  You have him at his pay grade as a clerk. he’s now a full NLRB attorney on a highery GS pay scale. Long story short, he earns more than the 2014 salary.

                • manual says:

                  But I’ll agree with Ronan, mostly. This should not be fireable. Its that he insulted a real deal DC power broker. Most of the people complaining about him are fake ass liberals. Neera’s actually not so bad. But Joan Walsh is the ultimate vacuous, idenitarian noeliberal who doesnt care about anything other than Red-Blue team bullshit (I say this as someone who will happily cast a ballot for hillary).

                • Roberta says:

                  I think the combination of the attack on her age, the inaccuracy of the substantive claim, the general insulting language, and his apparent lack of willingness to change his behavior in any way makes Demos more than justified in deciding they don’t want him communicating on their behalf anymore.

                  Not much of a Bruenig fan, but this just seems bizarre to me. Rudeness combined with inaccuracy is hardly uncommon in political debates on Twitter and usually doesn’t lead to firing. I agree with Ronan that Bruenig’s rhetoric was not out of the ordinary in that milieu. What’s out of the ordinary was Tanden’s status, and that’s not a good reason to fire anyone. Nor do I believe liberals would be cheering his firing if he were a Clinton supporter who behaved the exact same way to Tanden’s Republican equivalent.

                  I’m also not particularly impressed by the idea that it’s somehow fraudulent or out of line for him to put up a GoFundMe for a limited amount of time, when he said it was for 1/3 of his income and then shut it down when it got to that level.

                • Warren Terra says:

                  Rudeness combined with inaccuracy is hardly uncommon in political debates on Twitter and usually doesn’t lead to firing.

                  I haven’t been following thus that closely, but wasn’t he actually employed by Demos to do social media for them? Surely that would entitle them to expect both professional behavior and accuracy from him when he does social media, especially on issues that Demos works on, and with respect to an important peer and collaborator of theirs?

                  As to the money question: as I said, I haven’t followed all that closely, and I never visited his fundraising page. But the article I read about the story have no indication that his Demos blogging gig was his second, part time job, and he has another full time job as a lawyer for the feds, nor that his wife has a good job of her own. The strong implication (which I’m not completely blaming him for) was that he and his pregnant wife were suddenly deprived of their primary or sole income, rather than a nice side gig unlikely to be half what either of them earns elsewhere.

                • Roberta says:

                  I haven’t been following thus that closely, but wasn’t he actually employed by Demos to do social media for them? Surely that would entitle them to expect both professional behavior and accuracy from him when he does social media, especially on issues that Demos works on, and with respect to an important peer and collaborator of theirs?

                  I’d thought he was a blogger for them, not a social media promoter. I agree that if he were the latter, there’d be a higher standard of niceness. But there are plenty of paid bloggers who are aggressive and inaccurate on Twitter. Their organizations don’t fire them. Maybe they’re “entitled” to. Maybe writers “should” be polite and accurate. But in political Twitter debates, it doesn’t seem to be a firing offense, and I’m far from convinced it should be. Demos is saying it was more about his refusal to come around to a different standard of behavior than about this particular incident, but I’m not sure how to interpret that or whether to believe it–“agree to disagree” and “part ways” sounds like a euphemism for “we fired him.”

                  As to the money question: as I said, I haven’t followed all that closely, and I never visited his fundraising page. But the article I read about the story have no indication that his Demos blogging gig was his second, part time job, and he has another full time job as a lawyer for the feds, nor that his wife has a good job of her own. The strong implication (which I’m not completely blaming him for) was that he and his pregnant wife were suddenly deprived of their primary or sole income, rather than a nice side gig unlikely to be half what either of them earns elsewhere.

                  I don’t know what article you read. I saw tweets about 1/3 of his income, though, which seems to make it clear it’s a side gig, albeit a valuable one.

                • “Rudeness combined with inaccuracy” isn’t the whole story. He made a specific, provably false personal attack: that Tanden “tried to starve [him] and [his] mother because she wanted to be in Democratic politics.” He made this claim repeatedly, along with (bizarrely) calling her “geriatric” and a “scumbag”. When pressed, he reduced his claim, saying that Tanden “indicated… support” for welfare reform; this was also false.

                  To me, that goes beyond rude and inaccurate and verges on defamatory.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Not much of a Bruenig fan, but this just seems bizarre to me. Rudeness combined with inaccuracy is hardly uncommon in political debates on Twitter and usually doesn’t lead to firing.

                  Well, I, still, don’t quite know what his position there was. It seems that he’s a full time lawyer for the NLRB, so that suggests that his blogging for Demos is freelance or otherwise as a contractor. I don’t say that the loss of that income is trivial for them, but it is rather different that being unemployed or even, really, underemployed.

                  My understanding from the Demos post on the topic is that they don’t want to be associated with that sort of tactic or to have people who work or contract for them behaving that way, they discussed it with Bruenig and he refused to commit *in the future* to avoiding such Twitter behaviour:

                  Those who represent our organization in public are often confronted with objectionable arguments, with statements that offend our values, and even with ad hominem attacks – but nevertheless, we take pains to ensure that our voice is one that consistently elevates the debate. To have the democracy we want, the public square needs to be a place where people want to be.

                  We know that this aspiration is far from reality. There is now a currency to engaging in personal vitriol on social media, particularly on political Twitter. Some see this as the normal combat of politics; we see it as corrosive and unnecessary to advancing moral arguments and better policy agendas.

                  Today, we are taking a harder look at how our staff, fellows and independent contractors engage on social media—and unfortunately, we are finding that we have not met our own standards of vigilance to ensure that nobody associated with Demos is crossing an important line. After our tweet apologizing for Matt’s personal attacks including the term “scumbag,” we received emails from multiple individuals who made it clear that we were not aware of the extent to which Matt has been at the center of controversies surrounding online harassment of people with whom he disagrees.

                  It was evidence of a pattern of behavior that is far out of line with our code of conduct. After multiple conversations, Matt Bruenig and Demos have agreed to disagree on the value of the attack mode on Twitter. We part ways on the effectiveness of these kinds of personalized, online fights and so we are parting ways as colleagues today. And just as we did with Matt three years ago when he first joined our blog, Demos will continue to find and amplify the voices of lesser-known progressive policy commentators to make for a more inclusive public sphere.

                  I mean, if Bruenig prefers to be able to engage on Twitter in a certain manner to blogging with Demos (assuming the Demos account is accurate), then it’s even more a choice on his part and my sympathy is further reduced.

                  (He might have been a “fellow” (I can’t find a “past fellows” page to confirm) rather than doing piece work.)

                  If the only conditions were accuracy and manner with him having an opportunity to comply, then I think there’s no problem with his “firing”. One might disagree about their milquetoast posture, but it’s not inherently ridiculous, even if it’s mostly directed to people of power.

                  ETA: That being said, if people wanted to give him some cash to help with his cash flow, well, that’s fine. I feel, however, that he didn’t make his situation super clear and that some donors might have been misled into making a donation when they might otherwise have not (or maybe would have! but with a different feeling). He’s altered the GoFundMe spiel when he closed it down, so I can only go on my recollection.

                • Ronan says:

                  “You have him at his pay grade as a clerk. he’s now a full NLRB attorney on a highery GS pay scale. Long story short, he earns more than the 2014 salary.”

                  You make that much this early in your career? That genuinely surprises Me. He’s been out of college, what, 2-3 years, with 2-3 years prof experience? Is nlrb unusual in this respect?

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                Well, it seems like he clerked for them in 2014:

                https://www.federalpay.org/employees/national-labor-relations-board/bruenig-matthew

                I have no idea if to be so named on the case means he must be currently employed by them. Anyone?

                I didn’t find any other job info for him. He did say that the gofundme was intended to cover the unexpected income gap that the demos firing would impose during the upcoming birth. He closed it after three hours when it hit $24k and has updated it to redirect to someone else’s gofundme.

                It seems like he could have raised a lot more if he wanted to.

                • manual says:

                  It means, per Loomis email, hes a current attorney at the NLRB who is serving outside his legal jurisdiction in that case (pro hac vice). Hes a fully employed lawyer who also had a full ride in law school.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Thanks for the explanation.

                  It’s really annoying that none of his bios that I looked at mention this. Would this be normal for such a lawyer who also wrote about politics? (I mean, I can see why he’d want to keep things separated.)

                • Amanda in the South Bay says:

                  It’s really annoying that none of his bios that I looked at mention this.

                  I’ve followed both him and his wife over the years, as part of monitoring various intra left wing disputes online, and this thread is the first time I’ve heard of him being an attorney.

              • Amanda in the South Bay says:

                Jesus I thought he and his wife were in dire straits. I vaguely know of his wife as being a scholar of some sort. This puts a lot of it in a better perspective.

    • I love that Greenwald characterizes this as “fighting with a powerful DC Clinton operative”. I guess that’s a term one could use for calling someone a “geriatric” “scumbag” who “starv[ed]… poor mothers” in order to gain power in Democratic politics.

      When your job is saying stuff on the internet, it should be unsurprising that being a shitty troll can risk your employment. Bruenig should give Tucker Carlson a ring. Treacher could use a partner.

  8. MacK says:

    Speaking as someone who, as a GC, hired law firms, Thomas A Clare has just sent a letter that even a complete idiot should have known would become public, prove utterly counterproductive, and put him on the “gobshites you should never retain list at many corporate clients,” plus he will live on in ignominy on Google, and everyone googles likely counsel.

    Moreover, I can say that the vast majority of corporate lawyers and GCs agree with Paul Campos … So this letter will attract even more sh…than most.

    To up it simply, he managed to send a letter that was (a) not in his client’s interest to send, (b) exhibited terrible judgement, (c) was legally pointless, and (d) damaged him professionally in a way that may be irremediable. Oops.

    • BGinCHI says:

      And he’s from Notre Dame, so, basically, he’s the Charlie Weis of lawyering.

    • guthrie says:

      Private Eye here in the UK, the source of the ARkell vs Pressdram quote, have regular articles/ entries pointing out how some libel lawyer has managed exactly what you list as a, b, c, d. Oddly enough people keep using these lawyers though.

    • Hogan says:

      You will be receiving a reply from my counsel in this matter, REO Speedwagon.

    • Municipal D1 says:

      It’s a cease and desist letter, of sorts. Most C&D correspondence is useless, and in some cases, can be detrimental (specifically, it can create jurisdiction for a declaratory judgment case),

      A lot of clients feel like they need to do “something.” A letter like this is “something”, but that’s about it. It’s a “I’ll take your money if this is something you want to do” type of thing.

      Most of these letters, if somewhat carefully worded, are not defamatory. You can go over the line, however. Ask Bob Clifford how that worked for him (see Misner v. Clifford– Clifford made a really aggressive press release in connection with a lawsuit). You have to go pretty far, though.

  9. MacK says:

    Incidentally, I hate to quote the awful Leiter, but yes Mr. Clare may have committed what is known in Canada, England and Wales as “libel per se.” Leiter did not understand it , but there are certain allegations that are considered incontestably defamatory if not true.

    Now Clare might in the US try the “public figure” defense, but that is subject to a reckless falsehood limitation, I.e., could he or should he, or Inflaw, reasonably have known the statement to be false and defamatory. The term “nefarious” means wicked and/or criminal – in short the stupid (which is fair) Mr. Clare has accused Paul of criminal activity … that is unquestionably defamatory – and since Mr. Clare has such resources as Westlaw, etc., he should be well able to test if Paul had in fact committed crimes.

    Yes, it seems Paul has a cause of action here….

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      I’m pretty sure that an American judge would sanction you if you tried to claim that mere use of the word “nefarious” constituted a sufficiently specific allegation of criminal behavior to rise to libel per se. There’s a substantial body of case law holding that use of generalized terms like “crook,” “thief,” etc. are insufficient to be defamatory (let alone libel per se) without more specific facts made by the speaker/publisher relating to the purported criminal activity.

      • MacK says:

        Possibly, but the letter was more extensive and made a series of statements that could be reasonably be seen as statements of objective fact (which is a stupid thing for Clare to have done) beyond nefarious:

        * distorted facts – this amounts to presenting false facts, it is pretty serious and requires objective knowledge of distorted facts, which are??
        * distorted data – again what false data has been presented;
        * engaged in nefarious investigation tactics – nefarious means criminal and/or evil. If someone is going to,say a person engaged in criminal or evil investigation tactics, they had better be able to give some examples;
        * inappropriate investigation tactics – the word ‘innapropriate’ implies wrongful, again a serious and objective statement – better know of something innapropriate;
        * to accomplish a false agenda… wtf, he is saying that Paul Campos has some ulterior motive, that his agenda ‘is false,’ that, who knows, he’s shorting Inflaw?

        He follows this up with stating an intent to pursue “false and reckless statements.” So he makes a series of probably objectively false and almost certainly reckless statements, and then say he will pursue such statements. Nefarious on its own, you’d have a point, but the letter taken as a whole, yeah, you could say he crossed the line, and while not digging out the case law, the totality matters.

        That is objectively cretinous, a lawyer carried away with his own rhetoric, who dug and dug and will probably dig some more. His partners ought to take his keyboard away.

        Do I think Paul should sue him – well why, he is busy punching himself in the mouth. Should Inflaw fire him, well …..

        • MacK says:

          To put it more simply, he threatened a filmmaker making a documentary where his client might look bad, with a defamation suit in a letter that was pretty certain to become public, in a thuggish way – such that his client could be seen as seeking to suppress legitimate inquiry – which makes his client look even more evil and scared of the truth, and couched the letter in statements against an individual that are probably objectively defamatory, in a situation where he, as counsel for Inflaw, could reasonably be expected to be aware of the facts and truthfulness of the allegations, and then announced that reckless falsehood is actionable (just in case he’d have to explain how what he wrote is not)….result, his client looks worse and now were it to say issue proceedings against Campos wound face a solid counterclaim – and dipped his client in ordure while doing it. How, in any way, objectively, was this letter an intelligent thing to write?

          He’s a boob.

        • twbb says:

          At least he didn’t accuse Paul of having a loathsome disease.

        • los says:

          His partners ought to take his keyboard away
          and let him play a rusty harmonica instead!

      • Kalil says:

        IANAL, but it seems to me that there would be different standards for, say, a campaign ad or newspaper article versus a formal legal document written by a professional lawyer. ‘Nefarious intent’ has a specific legal meaning, and when used by a lawyer in an official context, ‘I didn’t mean it that way’ is a pretty poor defense. Isn’t a major purpose of ‘legalese’ to provide specificity of meaning?

        …not a fight I’d want to have with a law professor, for sure. ;p

        • MacK says:

          Context matters – this is a “legal letter.’ A hilarious example of context was a supermarket tabloid, i can’t remember which one – National Enquirer, Weekly World News … that tried the “everyone knows nothing we publish is true” defense.

          One of the problems Mr. Clare has is that this was a very formal letter supposedly making objective statements that were intended to influence the recipient’s conduct and create the impression that Campos is a liar, unethical and a criminal. Intent may be an issue in defamation – did you intend to defame?

      • DAS says:

        Who says the case would be tried in the US? IANAL, but IIRC, English considers any libel/slander repeated in England to fall under English jurisdiction. So long as the letter in question was read by someone in England (prior to Campos posting it on LGM), Campos can sue in England.

        • Warren Terra says:

          I thought English libel law had tightened significantly recently, because the international forum shopping was getting too blatant and because the “truth is not a defense against charges of libel” stance was seen as anomalous and outdated?

  10. yet_another_lawyer says:

    The other lawyers at Thomas Clare’s firm went to: Georgetown, U Mich, NorthWestern and George Washington. I’m not familiar with those institutions, but I presume at least one of those is an infilaw institution. Checkmate, Campos.

  11. Lee Rudolph says:

    LGM: where the commenters are objectively despicable and the bloggers are objectively nefarious!

  12. billcoop4 says:

    One notes that he also has a Tedcruzian smirk which would repel the sane.

    WMC

  13. rea says:

    From his webpage:

    Tom played a central role representing Chiquita in several highly-publicized matters involving the theft of voicemail messages by a reporter at the The Cincinnati Enquirer, resulting in a prominent front-page apology, a complete retraction of the news articles relying on the stolen voicemails, and a cash settlement to Chiquita in excess of $10 million.

    Tom currently represents UVA Associate Dean Nicole Eramo in her defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine relating to a highly publicized article falsely alleging the cover-up of an alleged gang rape on campusTom also represents former Penn State President Graham Spanier in his defamation case against Former FBI Director Louis Freeh relating to the controversial “Freeh Report” falsely accusing various university officials of enabling Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.

    • JustRuss says:

      the theft of voicemail messages by a reporter

      That’s an interesting choice of words. IANAL, but I believe “theft” requires that the item in question is illegally taken from its rightful owner. I highly doubt that Chiquita was deprived of the voicemails, so I don’t see how accessing and copying the voicemails can be called theft. Although this article does use the word “stealing”, so what do I know: https://nacla.org/blog/2013/7/4/revisiting-cincinnati-enquirer-vs-chiquita

      Fun fact: Eric Holder also represented Chiquita in a related case.

      • James B. Shearer says:

        In ordinary English usage one can refer to stealing passwords or credit card numbers so this doesn’t seem like a winning argument to me (however much anti-copyright activists would prefer otherwise).

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial says:

          And there is the whole theft of services category or crimes. You don’t really take anything when you sneak into a movie theater, but you do gain access to something without permission.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Yeah, that was a weird decision. The newspaper paid big bucks, apologized abjectly, fired the reporter, and issued a full retraction, even though everyone agrees the story they reported about Chiquita was completely factual, was in the public interested, and exposed criminal behavior. But the reporting itself involved minor criminality, so far better to completely knuckle under than risk it in front of a jury.

  14. science_goy says:

    If InfiLaw is so great, why didn’t InfiLaw hire an InfiLaw-trained attorney to write this horseshit?

  15. Lamont Cranston says:

    Arizona Summit’s [bar passage rate] has gone from 75 percent to an astonishing 30.6 percent.

    Curious to learn more about how a law school could do so poorly, I went to their Wikipedia page. There I learned the following:

    Students admitted for the Fall of 2014 to Arizona Summit Law School had a median GPA of 2.94 and a median LSAT Score of 144.

  16. Captain Oblivious says:

    WTF is a “false agenda”?

  17. Peterr says:

    Prior reporting on the issues you plan to address, including law school attrition rates and student success, has been plagued by gross misinformation, factual errors, and a general misuse and distortion of available data and analysis. This is especially true as they have been applied to InfiLaw schools such as Florida Coastal. Individuals, such as Paul Campos, have distorted facts and data and engaged in nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics in order to accomplish a false agenda attacking law school admissions and career advancement policies. As such, I caution you to carefully assess any information and facts you gather from Mr. Campos and any other purported “authorities” on law school success metrics and the risks and rewards of attending law school in this day and age. InfiLaw and its affiliated schools will carefully analyze and assess any statements made about them and will not be afraid to pursue legal recourse to protect its reputation against any false and reckless statements.

    For someone who purports to be concerned about such matters, this letter . . . what’s the phrase? . . . assumes facts not in evidence.

    If InfiLaw actually filed a suit, Paul and his attorneys would have a field day with pretrial discovery. IANAL, but I can easily imagine that they would ask for (and likely recieve) access to internal InfiLaw docs and data on such matters as are the subject of the suit — admissions data, actual LSAT scores of applicants broken down by accepted and denied, internal emails and memos between administrators and admissions staff, actual survey instruments and responses used to measure post-graduation success (and internal memos/reports/emails on how that is developed, analyzed, reported, and disseminated), and so much more.

    Paul, you should be praying that Thomas A. Clare, Esq, files this suit that is threatened.

    In addition, InfiLaw requests that you notify me immediately upon any decisions to include any references to or subject matter about InfiLaw or any of its affiliate schools in your documentary, and provide InfiLaw the opportunity to review and comment on them prior to any public dissemination.

    I suggest the filmmaker send Mr. Clare a rate sheet for a special “private pre-release screening”, with a six figure ticket price for the honor of viewing it in advance. I’m sure Paul could come up with a nice guest list, so as to surround Mr. Clare and his plus one with appropriate viewing partners.

    • Municipal D1 says:

      They’re never going to file suit, just for the reasons you stated. Truth is a defense, and the truth of the challenged statements are certainly discoverable.

  18. LosGatosCA says:

    Preparatory to anything else, why do so many lawyers write so atrociously?

    IANAL but I thought the whole point of stern letter writing by lawyers was akin to pounding the table:

    1. To intimidate in hopes that any non-lawyer subject will stop their activity without requiring actual legal steps to be taken

    2. To be purposely arcane/vague so that after the non-lawyer subject is sufficiently intimidated they will be overly cautious so that even activities that they have a perfect legal right to engage in they will avoid

    Of course if the non-lawyer subject has a good lawyer then all that’s been lost is the postage and the time billed for the lawyers assistant to pull out the correct form letter and modify it per 5 minutes of instruction from the lawyer.

    But, admittedly, I have very limited knowledge in this area. And I apologize for the poor writing in this comment.

    • efgoldman says:

      1. To intimidate in hopes that any non-lawyer subject will stop their activity without requiring actual legal steps to be taken

      2. To be purposely arcane/vague so that after the non-lawyer subject is sufficiently intimidated they will be overly cautious so that even activities that they have a perfect legal right to engage in they will avoid

      When we were first married, 39 years ago, we rented our first apartment from a lady who turned out (literally) to be crazy. After many battles and false accusations (she accused us of making noise when we we were away; she accused us of having our dog harass hers – we didn’t have any pets; after the blizzard of ’78 she accused us of blocking her car in – it had been towed off the highway to a schoolyard three towns away….). Finally I got a letter from her lawyer with all kids of legal hoohah in it. IANAL, but because I can read and knew about tenant protection law, I basically told him they could initiate eviction proceedings if they wanted, but it would take months and meanwhile we would stop paying rent. He called me (wouldn’t put anything in writing) and apologized and said to find a new place in our good time and meanwhile he’d advise his client to shut the fuck up.

    • LosGatosCA says:

      My only real experience in lawyer letter writing was when I was traveling with our legal counsel and we were double billed by United Airlines flying from the Bay Area to Orlando.

      He wrote a 2 paragraph letter that was actually pretty clear.

      The first paragraph was straightforward on the facts (flight numbers, confirmed reservation dates/codes, receipts) – pretty much the same data I would have provided in a phone call to try to straighten it out.

      The second paragraph was the killer though: he wrote a deadline for it to be corrected and specifically told them not to contact us except to confirm the matter was corrected. Then closed with the next step he would take if they didn’t comply – disputing the charge with the credit card company, etc.

      No wasted time on the phone with anyone and I got the refund on my credit card in less than 10 days.

      I’ve adapted that letter twice since when receiving erroneous bills and it worked exactly the same way. No wasted time on phone calls, no begging for consumer justice. Immediate and simple compliance.

      • Breadbaker says:

        One of my mentors (sadly now deceased at an insufficient age) when I was a first year associate called me into his office and showed me a letter he had received. He asked me what was the problem with the letter. I was able to identify it: the author had not asked for anything. He had delineated a position quite well, but he made no demand, set no deadlines, outlined no course of action that would occur if redress were not given.

        I’ve used that same example in mentoring those who have come after me. Your lawyer did well.

  19. lizzie says:

    You reminded me of IRAC, you monster.

  20. H. Rumbold, Master Barber says:

    Preparatory to anything else, Mr. Clare, Esq. needs the shavings brushed off him and a general bucking up.

  21. randy khan says:

    As is evident, they’re never going to sue Campos; heck, they’re never going to sue the filmmaker for relying on Campos. The whple purpose of the letter is to intimidate (at which it is laughably bad).

    I’d add that lawyers sometimes write letters like these (often contrary to their advice to the client) when there isn’t really much to support the claim and the client really, really wants to do it. If that’s the case, you try to make the best argument you can, and sometimes that argument is not so hot. If it’s a longstanding client, refusal may not be a real option. I have to say that’s my assumption here, given this guy’s resume.

    • Downpuppy says:

      In this case the client is a chain of law schools. Why a chain of law schools needs an outside attorney to write a stupid letter is a joke, not a question.

      • randy khan says:

        It *is* pretty funny.

        That said, given everything we know about them, it seems unlikely they have anyone on staff who’s competent to write such a letter.

        More seriously, part of the idea of such a letter is that the recipient is supposed to notice the outside firm’s letterhead and the name of the lawyer who signs it, and therefore to conclude that the client must be serious if it was willing to pay what it would cost to get that firm and that lawyer to write the letter. In fact, that’s what you’re really paying for in the first place. Of course, the effect gets ruined when it’s this silly.

      • los says:

        Maybe nobody at the school has current attorney license? The threatener’s threatenee might lookup up threatener’s lack of license, and realize the letter-writer lacks ‘teeth’?

      • FOARP says:

        Why a chain of law schools needs an outside attorney to write a stupid letter is a joke, not a question.

        Same reasons anyone hires anyone to do something they could do themselves:

        1) Liability.

        2) Shows ‘seriousness’

    • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial says:

      I’d add that lawyers sometimes write letters like these (often contrary to their advice to the client) … refusal may not be a real option.

      Just reading this gives me chills. So glad to be out of that racket. Being someone’s paid attack dog is no way to go through life.

  22. taylormattd says:

    It likely would have improved his letter had he followed an ISSUE / RULE / APPLICATION / CONCLUSION format

  23. Paedio says:

    Preparatory to anything else, why do so many lawyers write so atrociously?

    Why to use big, scary words written scarily to scare you. Aren’t you scared, yet? You should be because he’s a big shot scary lawyer.

  24. Warren Terra says:

    All of these comments are avoiding the real question: when the letter is read aloud in the documentary, to boost the drama, who is the ideal voiceover artist?

  25. CDT says:

    At least in this world, you are likely a public figure and accordingly must prove actual malice. (For the non-lawyers, that is a statement made with knowledge of its falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth). The key sentence certainly displays a reckless disregard for brevity and clarity. I’m not sure a lawsuit would be worth it. Perhaps a nasty letter?

  26. sanity clause says:

    If there was ever a face in need of the abrupt application of a pie, it would be Mr. Clare’s. And that’s even before reading his prose, which backs up that first impression 100%.

    I’m not a lawyer, so it’s beyond me to identify the legal ISSUE, state the relevant RULE, or provide an APPLICATION. But that’s my CONCLUSION.

  27. Calming Influence says:

    No one has ever called me nefarious.

    I’ve got to try harder.

  28. Calming Influence says:

    And seriously, “A. Clare”? If you’re going to use a pseudonym, why not just go for “Mr. Craw Sant”? Or “the Right Honorable Judge Pam Cake”?

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