What is a Defamation of Character Assessment?

traverselegal - April 10, 2012 - Defamation Law, Defamation of Character Assessment

Welcome to Defamation Law Radio. Internet defamation of character is as easy to perpetuate as a blog post, Facebook update, rating submission, or a forum comment.  Your online reputation is measured by the websites return as Google search results.  Do you know what people are saying and writing about you?

Welcome to Traverse Legal Radio.  My name is Attorney Enrico Schaefer and I, along with several other attorneys in the firm, specialize in defamation of character issues. Specifically, in internet law related defamation issues wherein defamatory statements have been posted on the internet.  So, when you are the victim of an online defamation attack or have been wrongfully accused of internet defamation, we can help you understand what your options are, what your risk is and how much it’s going to cost to handle a variety of different approaches to making the matter go away, or otherwise handling the defamation matter.

Today, I want to talk a little bit about our defamation assessment.  And It’s typically the very first spot that brings you into our law firm.  We need to understand your issue.   Whether or not you’re a victim of defamation of character or have been accused of defamation of character.  We need to understand the background facts. We need to understand what your goals are.  We need to understand what cases might apply, what principles might apply.  Whether or not there is Anti-SLAPP statute that might apply.  We need to understand what documents are out there. What is the website look like.  What has been said. Whether or not is qualifies as defamation under law.  We need to understand your risk tolerance and your budget in order to be able to provide recommendations about what your options are and what you might do next, and most importantly, what it will cost if you select options one, two or three.

So, the defamation assessment is the most important thing that we perform on behalf of our defamation of character clients.  It’s the thing that puts us into the knowledge base that allows us to make recommendations to the client about what they should do and how much it’s going to cost. So, our defamation of character assessment project works like this.

We get you signed up as a Traverse Legal client.  The first thing we do is we need to obtain all the background information from you concerning the defamation of character incident.  We certainly need to understand the website where the posting occurred or if it was on Facebook or Twitter, etc., we need to see the post. We also need to interview you to get further background information about who did the posting or who’s making the defamation accusation, so we can understand who they are.

We also need to do a search to see if, in fact, there have been other cases involving this person or this website.  We need to review the terms of service of the various websites that the matter was posted on.

The next thing we need to do is we need to interview you in order to understand what are your goals and what are your priorities.  Some clients have very serious matter and they need the websites or web pages removed from the internet.  Some people believe that removal is not going to be possible and they need to understand what their litigation options are if they were to sue for defamation of character.  Some people just need it to stop on a moving forward basis.  Some people who have been accused of defamation need to the person who’s making the accusation go away, to help them understand that what occurred was First Amendment protected opinion, therefore, there is no defamation, etc.  When it comes to the websites where the information is posted, we need to understand does that website have a policy that would allow us to either remove, by threat letter, the defamatory content or can the defendant (the person accused of defamation of character) have to actually request to have their comments taken off the website.  We need to understand what your specific goals are and what kind of information is going to be required in order to meet those goals.

The other thing we need to do is prioritize them.  Sometimes, the most important thing is to have the content from the web removed.  Other times, there are priorities that are more important.  We need to understand what kind of legal budget you bring to the table in order to handle this matter.  If your total budget is $3,000, then we’re going to have to see what kind of strategy we can put together to give you a reasonable chance at accomplishing your goals within that budget.  If the matter is costing you your reputation for the rest of your life, costing you business and consumers or job opportunities, if it’s costing you your relationships with the people in your neighborhood or your friends and family, then the matter is more serious. And, obviously, you’re going to be in a position where you’re going to be willing to spend more money in order to accomplish your goals.  The reason is simple.  If the defamatory post is going to cost you your reputation or your business reputation and, therefore, going to cost you tens or hundreds of hundreds of thousands of dollars in business, then it certainly makes sense to spend more money in order to try to fix the situation.

Once we understand the background information, once we understand your goals, once we understand what kind of budget we’re working in, we can then tell you what your options are, the likelihood of success of those options, and how much the next phase of the project is going to cost.  How much money we expect it would cost to send takedown letters to the various websites.  Whether or not it makes sense to spend money on trying to have defamatory content taken down from those sites based on their policies.  Whether or not it makes sense to send a threat letter to the person who posted the information, assuming that person can be identified one way or another.  Whether or not it makes sense to file litigation in order to get a subpoena power in order to get information from an ISP or web hosting company about who posted the defamatory content.  We will be able to provide you options and the costs of those options for the next phase.  That is the assessment project.  It allows us to make recommendations, give you legal advice and tell you what the next step is going to cost.

One interesting thing about our law firm Traverse Legal compared to many other law firms, is we tend to handle these on a defined deliverable flat fee basis, so we guarantee price.  We can tell you that the assessment is going to cost X, you’re not going to pay any more than X for the assessment.  During the assessment, we will be able to say that we recommend that you run a threat letter project against the person who posted the defamatory information, it’s going to cost you X and it’s going to take you all the way through the response and analysis of the response.  We work on a defined fee deliverable basis that works for you.  That way, you can stage the matter out making sure that the money you are spending makes sense on a return on investment basis, you take one step at a time and work your way through the process.  We always recommend for people who come to us on internet defamation issues that occur online that we do this defamation assessment so we can get you up to speed and help you understand your legal rights, your options and the cost involved.

My name is Defamation Attorney Enrico Schaefer, we’ll see you next time.

You’ve been listening to Defamation Law Radio, where defamation of character, slander, and libel are always the topic of the day.  Whether you are a defamation attorney or a client, we are the number one resource for all your defamation questions.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Enrico Schaefer, who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing Business, IP, and Technology Law litigation attorney.