Why Can’t Law Firms Handle Fair Comment and Free Speech

I got another email from a law student asking me to remove the internship experience he had shared on Lawctopus. The law firm had asked him to do so. Why? Because among the 400 good words he had written about the firm, there were 50 not so good words.

This has happened earlier too. Law firms guard the reputations to the hilt, and rightly so. Reputation, like any other good thing in this world, is hard to gain and easy to lose.

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However, being unable to take review & criticism in the right spirit are signs of a malaise. Individuals, societies and professions, scared of criticism, won’t go too far ahead. When you do not have people telling you what’s wrong and all that you want to hear is what fuels your ego, progress becomes impossible.

I might be talking of an ideal here. After all, being open and accepting to critique is an ideal.

The said law firms however go further. They say, “We can’t stand what this intern has written. Take the post down”.

The take it down part is a threat to the intern. It also is a vicious attack on the freedom of speech. And well, when the attack comes from the supposed guardian, it disgusts me.

This attitude won’t change unless the legal industry becomes comfortable with fair criticism. And fortunately, things are changing.

Websites like Legally India too have some stories which do not go well with law firms. Earlier, the law firms used to howl in protest; now, they still howl, but it has mellowed down.

Slowly, the legal industry will get used to fair reviews and fair criticisms. It should be a very healthy thing for the profession and will lead to a change in mindset. A mindset which is open to critique and has the ability to laugh at itself.

Some law students have even been threatened. “This won’t be good for your career”. My reply to the law student always is, “They won’t be able to do much. And if such is the attitude of an employer, better not deal with them in any capacity.”

The argument from the law firms is: “This is the experience of one person. We (generally) provide for better internships”.

Experiences/reviews, of course, are subjective. Someone likes the kebabs, someone finds them too spicy, for some they were bland.

Reviews/experiences are subjective, but multiple subjective reviews become indicative, “This restaurant is good; that is bad and that one fabulous” and of course “This is the place to intern; do not intern at that place”.

Also, dear law firms, how you treat one, is (generally) how you treat all.

So well, dear law students, do share your internship experiences here.

You are slowly changing your profession for good!