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The Helpless Help
August 6, 2012 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm hoping MeFi can help me with the why and how of an unusual business situation. I own a small marketing agency. An elderly woman wants to retain me to make a Facebook page and write about how she was wronged/is still being wronged by a pair of judges who will not drop a case that should be dropped. In addition to calling out the judges she will make a larger point that judicial character reform is necessary.

She will write the articles and we will post them and respond to feedback. She is doing this because she told one of the judges she would write about what he has done on the Internet and she intends to keep her promise.

She has a doctorate, has studied law and seems quite mentally healthy. She is willing to pay a hundred or so per month for this service which is low but about as much as she can afford.

I have two questions:
1. If I accept this project I will want to do as well for her as possible, naturally. What are some realistic, cost-effective ways to get press for this sort of thing? She will be starting out with few followers and presumably no attention.

2. As I weigh whether to take this, what ought I to consider? I am concerned to not be wasting the money of an elderly woman who does not have much. On the other hand, I can provide a reasonable service and I don't know who else will help her fulfill her promise.
posted by michaelh to Work & Money (17 answers total)
 
I've had jobs in the past where I encountered a surprising number of people who think they've been wronged by judges, the police, the government, etc., and I didn't meet a single one who didn't turn out to have some kind of mental issues. Nor did I meet one where the claims had a basis in reality. A few of those people had PhDs, as a matter of fact... I'm not saying that no one has ever been wronged by the legal system (obviously a lot of people have been), but in my personal experience the people who spend a lot of energy trying to publicize this kind of thing have all turned out to be mentally ill in some way.

I personally would not take this job unless a huge amount of money was involved (and maybe not even then).
posted by primethyme at 4:44 PM on August 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


FB will take this down in a heartbeat. She's better off doing this on a blog site or getting a domain name. You're not responsible for her content, if you want to help her or work for her.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:45 PM on August 6, 2012


This is a thankless task. Do not accept this assignment; you will eventually be deemed to have "wronged" the client and become a target. (This happened to two different attorney friends of mine with two different clients!)

Also, this isn't the kind of gig you can put in your portfolio. Skip it for the sake of your sanity and career.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:51 PM on August 6, 2012 [23 favorites]


Run, run like the wind.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:53 PM on August 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'd worry that you might unknowingly assist her in committing contempt of court.
posted by grouse at 4:55 PM on August 6, 2012


Orly Taitz has a doctor of dentistry degree and a law degree. From my heart, I beseech you not to confuse credentials with appropriate perceptions of reality and understanding of social norms.

$100/month is nowhere near enough money to get involved with an aggrieved person's crusade against some perceived injustice.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:55 PM on August 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


What can you possibly do for her for $100/month? That's not even an hour's worth of even a small agency's time. In my experience in a related field, a client who can at most afford $100 a month invariably thinks that amount will buy them quite a bit more than you can deliver for $100.

If you're thinking of making this a pro bono, do the same kind of due diligence prior to taking on any pro bono client: does anyone other than her believe she has been wronged? Can she refer you to her attorney who will give you a read on the case that lead to her outrage? A journalist who is eager to get a story out of this? No? Then she's a crackpot.
posted by jamaro at 5:07 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


How's your liability insurance? Can it cover your legal costs if she sues you? Are you incorporated as an LLC? Got a lawyer you can talk this over with?

A high-risk client with litigious tendencies for a hundred bucks a month?
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:51 PM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would not do this for a thousand dollars a month. The lawyer's fees alone (and I feel very, very confident that you will eventually need to consult a lawyer if you take this job) will eat up everything she will pay you.
posted by KathrynT at 5:53 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you want to do pro-bono work (which this is), consult your heart or the internet and find a cause worthy of your time that does not put your career in jeopardy. If you are interested in judicial reform, maybe work with established groups like The Innocence Project.

You can easily decline the project by saying that $100 will only buy an hour of your services and you don't have the capacity to do free work at the moment. You are welcome to spend one hour on the project, or what your normal rate is, if you like. You can direct her to lower cost possibilities, maybe via outsourcing websites like vWorker.com. (However you should decline to help her get set up with them.)

Whether she seems mentally healthy or not, mentally healthy do not ask an adult to work essentially for free. Certainly not the mentally healthy people you want as clients.
posted by kellybird at 6:12 PM on August 6, 2012


Nothing good can come of this. And, you could lose everything. Don't do it.
posted by quince at 6:13 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The one thing I'd add to the above chorus of caution is that you should also investigate whether any of the statements she wants you to make are libelous, and if so, whether you'll have any potential legal liability for them. If you don't have a lawyer, I would definitely get one and consult him or her before proceeding.
posted by willbaude at 6:47 PM on August 6, 2012


The very fact that you are considering this concerns me. The reason she can't get anyone else to do this, beyond the fact that it is a terrible idea and even worse pay, is that it's a potential legal mess and she is likely quite daft. But for the sake of your question, let's assume she is not only sane, but also legitimately has been wronged. If this $100/month gig winds up in court, kiss your burgeoning biz goodbye and start signing all your checks over directly to your lawyers. She is best advised to do this herself on a blog, as stated above. If you really feel bad for her and want to help, spend an hour or two giving her a workshop on social media marketing and wish her well. Don't get involved on a long term basis. This is a ready made case for Judge Judy if I ever saw one.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:58 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


You should advise her to write an op-ed on judicial character reform for her local newspaper. It would better because:
-it would be free to her,
-it would be in a medium she understands more fully,
-it would be in a forum that is guaranteed to get public exposure in her town,
-it would be in a forum that's more reputable if someone like a bar association or state legislature wanted to cite it,
and
-any feedback will be moderated by the newspaper rather than by you or her (no need to worry about spam or abusive commenters).
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:21 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd read up on Facebook's TOS, I'm sure this violates something and you can use that to decline the offer. Especially for so little money. I would also try to detach from this client, because she is cuckoo.
posted by radioamy at 7:47 PM on August 6, 2012


This could possibly land you in all sorts of legal hot water and you stand to gain very little else from it. Besides, how hard is it for this woman to set up her own page and upload her little rants? The fact that it is so easy yet she's asking you to do it for her and has in depth knowledge of the law is a little disturbing - for all you know, you're being set up to take the fall for posting this stuff if things get hairy. Or to quote another poster, run. Run like the wind.
posted by Jubey at 8:19 PM on August 6, 2012


Thanks, everyone. I think the fact that no one suggests advocating for her position shows I'm a little blinded by being closer to it. Interestingly, she does have a weekly column in one of our local newspapers; I suppose she will have to be content with that and I'll stick with more serious projects that take care of my family and the business as well as the clients.
posted by michaelh at 9:33 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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