On the morning of March 21, legal industry news site JD Journal announced that they would pay for tips regarding law firm news. Later that afternoon, Above the Law, a major competitor, posted a vicious personal attack against the Journal’s Editor-In-Chief, Harrison Barnes. If the timing of this article doesn’t raise a few eyebrows, read on for more about the contentious relationship between Above the Law and Barnes.
The attack article, which was written by Joe Patrice and appeared on the front page of Above the Law, features excerpts taken out of context from a blog post written by Barnes over one year ago and appears to be an attempt to discredit Barnes. (It’s worth noting that the blog post Patrice excerpts was taken from Barnes’ personal blog.)
Above The Law’s article, titled “Legal Recruiter Fails to Understand Hiring Process, Basic Social Conventions,” accuses Barnes of being racist, sexist, and several other –ists, before attempting to undermine his authority as the founder of BCG Attorney Search, one the nation’s most successful legal recruiting firms. It is also curious that Above the Law only mentions BCG, and makes no mention of JD Journal, Law Crossing or any of Barnes’ other business ventures that haven’t turned down advertising on ATL (especially his sweat shop in Indonesia, his fake ID operation in Vegas, and his company that forges autographs of Kristin Stewart).
According to Barnes, BCG Attorney Search has been approached “countless times” by Above the Law to be an advertiser on the site and has refused. Instead, he started a competing publication JD Journal that has become enormously successful.
“Wow. It’s clear I made a real mistake not advertising with Above the Law and competing with them by offering tips for news,” says Barnes. “They’ve dug up some ‘dirt’ on me by publishing out-of-context quotes from a personal blog I wrote over one year ago. I guess their next stop will be my Facebook page and maybe my credit report.”
Barnes’ humorous and honest account of a few bad hires he made achieved a bit of positive notoriety when they were originally published, over one year ago, on his personal blog. Above the Law’s commentary on the article indicates that their dour staff does not grasp the humor that is inherent in a blog post titled “Ass Face, a Retired Actress, and a Horny 41-Year Old: Respecting Yourself and Your Job.”
“I’m going to have either start advertising with Above the Law, stop competing with them, or start writing duller headlines,” says Barnes.
Internet commentors, typically eager to swarm a proverbial drop of blood in the water like a school of hungry piranhas, surprisingly defended Barnes, and called out Patrice and the publication for failing to understand Barnes and his article, saying “Actually read the guys article on the site, and some pretty funny stuff in there…. You, of course, took the most unfunny parts and decided to [print] this monstrosity of a post “and “ATL Editor Fails To Understand Humor.”
By condemning Barnes’ personal and subjective assessment of both the unqualified and erratic people he hired and his own reasons for hiring them, Above the Law tries to cast themselves as the moral guardians of the legal industry. If ATL is really trying to protect the decency of the legal industry, maybe it should turn its focus back on renegade advertising guru Adam Reposa and his offensive, yet extremely entertaining antics.
Patrice castigates Barnes for describing his hires in specific detail, and suggests that those in the human resource industry should refrain from making such severe judgments, all while making judgments against Barnes himself. As one commentator points out, Patrice disparages Barnes for commenting on a woman’s appearance, only to offer his own vicious generalization of Los Angeles’ female population a few lines later. Zing!
More worrying than the clueless tone of the article is the purpose behind its conception. Patrice’s article was posted to the front page of Above the Law a few short hours after Barnes’ legal industry news site announced that they would pay money for news tips from legal insiders. JD Journal is a competitor of Above the Law, and the timing of Patrice’s attack is more than a little obvious.
Moreover, after several requests, Barnes refused to advertise BCG on Above the Law, perhaps for reasons related to the site’s reactionary stance on levity. Above the Law may be seeking to discredit Barnes for his refusal to advertise, essentially killing two troublesome birds with one dour, humorless stone.
Regardless of the motivation behind the article, the majority of readers seem to agree that Barnes’ article is clever, funny and insightful in a way that Above the Law, at least in this instance, is not. In the future, ATL’s staff should put forth greater effort when attempting to write salacious articles that distract from their competitor’s announcements.
As for final comments, Barnes goes on to say, “I would also like to apologize to Above the Law for wearing shorts and sandals to work. I’m sorry for the market crash of 2008. Oh, and I’m sorry about my involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Tomorrow I’ll wear slacks to work and leave my humor in my underwear drawer.”