'Like, what? Some 12-year-old kid is going to give me legal advice?"
July 16, 2001 4:16 PM   Subscribe

'Like, what? Some 12-year-old kid is going to give me legal advice?" On the internet, no one knows that you're a 15-year old legal whiz without a license to practice law. Long story, but well worth it. Any MeFi lawyers care to comment on the UPL aspect?
posted by davidmsc (11 comments total)
And here is the AskMe profile of Marcus. Looks like he's well on his way to SCOTUS! From what I've read, I'd rather have him defending me than, say, the "sleeping lawyer" who let his client get a death-row sentence in Texas a few years ago.
posted by davidmsc at 4:27 PM on July 16, 2001

Man. That is a long article. I'll be back in an hour, when I've finished reading it...
posted by silusGROK at 5:16 PM on July 16, 2001

what a great story. although I think the author is wrong in this:
That idea had already traveled a long way, and the Internet was helping it to travel faster. After all, what did it say about the law that even a 15-year-old boy who had never read a law book could pass as an expert in it to a huge audience? It said that a lot of people felt that legal knowledge was accessible to the amateur
that's a contradictory statement. a boy fooling people into thinking he's an expert doesn't imply that those people think legal knowledge is accessible to an amateur. it just means that he seems like an expert to people who don't know any better.

it may say something about how people perceive expertise - sound like a tv lawyer, you must be good - but that's about it.

I'm surprised that people aren't put off by the misspellings on his profile page, but I suppose that if he's offering people common sense advice, that's weighs more heavily.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:17 PM on July 16, 2001

Great article, worth reading. I hope the rest of Lewis' book is this good.

R. Blood: I think there's more to it than simply sounding like a tv lawyer, if you want to get wacky and linguistic about things. He *was* a lawyer--just not a certified, appointed and approved lawyer. Sure, he's a mixed up kid, but for the people that received his advice, he was a lawyer for all intents and purposes.

It's kind of like people billing themselves as internet or design experts. Sometimes they actually morph into the "calling."
posted by mecran01 at 5:33 PM on July 16, 2001

Wow... I can't even imagine how many hours of court tv he's watched, let alone how he stomached it.. then again, i can't believe how much time i spend on the internet.. but that's probably something entirely different. a gifted kid.. the tiger woods of law! (though he's not black... well, you get what i mean.)
posted by lotsofno at 5:53 PM on July 16, 2001

The kid isn't a lawyer, but you don't have to be a lawyer to defend someone in court. And didn't we learn a lot of law by watching , e.g., the oj trial? For the types of questions he has been answering, Court TV is sufficient. The kid could go far if he started picking up books instead of pointing a remote.
posted by caraig at 6:06 PM on July 16, 2001

that's a contradictory statement. a boy fooling people into thinking he's an expert doesn't imply that those people think legal knowledge is accessible to an amateur. it just means that he seems like an expert to people who don't know any better.

Don't know any better? Marcus gives people good legal information and appropriate advice based upon that information. The lawyers that attacked him in the forum weren't upset that he was giving people bad information and advice...they were upset at this 15 yo kid eroding consumer confidence of their lofty (and lucrative) profession.

I think what the author is trying to argue here is the Internet is helping people see that the value of legal information lies not with a title or accreditation (i.e. "laywer") but with the knowledge possessed by the individual dispensing the information. The Internet allows people with information to readily dispense it, and it also gives people the tools (a ranking mechanism in this case) to find this knowledge and the experts giving it.

(Of course, the trouble is that a high ranking does not necessarily equal "good" or "knowledgable". It just means that the person or thing being ranked is popular.)
posted by jkottke at 6:32 PM on July 16, 2001

Okay. I'm done now... man! my eyes hurt.

Great article. Thanks David.
posted by silusGROK at 6:43 PM on July 16, 2001

jkottke, I pretty much agree with your accessment, I just think the writer drew a faulty conclusion in the bit I quoted.

as for knowing better, or not knowing better, the proof there would be whether or not his advice worked. if people following his advice got the results they hoped for, then clearly they got effective legal advice (which, incidentally, leaves the question of "good" right out of it.)

if they liked his advice but didn't wait for a result to rate him, then their rating woudl be based on their perceptions, ie whether he seemed lawyerly to them online.

that's all.

on the other hand, if you have his meaning right, you said it much more clearly than he did, and I'd rate him less highly than you as a writer. :)
posted by rebeccablood at 7:00 PM on July 16, 2001

I think that it's a bit too easy to just say "oh the lawyers who complained about him were just mad that he was stealing their business". I know everyone loves lawyer jokes, etc, but some of them actually do care, and yes, a lot of them would be bothered by the idea of a bunch of people being tricked into taking legal advice from a 15 year old who lied about his credentials, and age (until he got found out anyway) and whose legal knowledge consists of things that sounds like they're right. Just because this article's spin was in part "those nasty lawyers were scared of the power the internet gives out!", which I just don't get. This kid's an ass who was deceiving people. We only have the author's word that the advice he was giving was good, and it's obvious from early on that he had an angle he was running with.
posted by beefula at 7:20 PM on July 16, 2001

"This kid's an..." Wasn't the point of the story about social perception/roles based on access to or presentation of information? Just because you have info doesn't make the info meaningful or accurate.


Found an interesting thesis a long time ago you might be interested in if you liked the underlying point of the article. I think it is at this address: http://cs.smith.edu/~hargitta/Thesis/thesis.html
posted by greyscale at 8:19 PM on July 16, 2001

« Older MTV's Real World Gets a Taste of Chicago's REAL...   |   Companies Encouraged to Mine Your Email Messages... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments