BARE BONES BRIEFS: Blakes absent, but Gowling shines on YouTube | Investment fund liable for “greenwashing” | Lawyer forgives client who stabbed him in court | Ukraine wants to trademark “go fuck yourself” war slogan | Adultery now legal

By Julius Melnitzer | April 4, 2024


According to Eric Troutman, a prominent class action defence lawyer with California-based Troutman Amin LLP, writing in Practice Source, YouTube is “the world’s second most visited website and an absolutely critical communication channel for businesses (including law firms) seeking to engage with new and existing customers”. But firms with over US$500 million in revenue, collectively coined ‘BigLaw’, have an “anemic” approach to video engagement, he concludes, and only a “handful” have more YouTube followers than lawyers. In support, Troutman notes that 15 of the world’s largest law firms, including Canada’s Blake, Cassels & Graydon, have no YouTube presence at all. On the bright side, Gowling WLG ranks 12th with 1,300 followers. Three international firms with a Canadian presence are also among the Top 15 firms with the most YouTube followers: Baker McKenzie boasts 2,750 followers (3); Dentons has 1,670 (9), and Norton Rose Fulbright has 1,010 (15). By contrast, Troutman Amin, a six-lawyer firm which has been around for only about a year, has attracted 89,000 viewers on YouTube.

Overall, however, the picture is definitely not pretty. That’s a shame, Troutman says, but not surprising because most BigLaw firms “simply have no cohesive brand identity”, a situation he calls “insane” for firms with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and huge marketing resources.

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The Federal Court of Australia has found Vanguard Investments Australia, which manages over AUD$1 billion in assets, liable in what is believed to be the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s first successful civil “greenwashing” prosecution. In a client bulletin, McCarthy Tétrault LLP states that Vanguard’s Ethically Conscious Global Aggregate Bond Index Fund promised its investors that it did not invest in business activities involving fossil fuels, weapons and vice products; in fact, the Fund’s assets included stakes in companies engaged in oil and gas. Penalty will be determined in August.

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While on trial in Oakland, California for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Ramello Randle escaped his restraints and attacked his lawyer, Matt Fregi, the most recent of Randle’s merry-go-round of counsel, with a pen. According to Practice Source, Fregi was non-plussed, saying he felt “no ill will toward” his client as his injuries were “nothing serious”. Still, the local sheriff has charged Randle with new counts of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Yet forgiveness, it apperas, must give way to ethical conflicts: not likely, one assumes, that Fregi will be representing Randle in these matters.

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Politico reports that Ukraine’s State Border Guard has applied to trademark the phrase “Russian warship, go fuck yourself”, first used by a Ukrainian soldier in reponse to a Russian warship’s demand for surrender as it approached Snake Island in the Black Sea. But the European Union Intellectual Property Office maintains that the slogan does not meet trademarking requirements, although various parties are using variations of the slogan to market commercial products. EUIPO concluded that granting a trademark was “contray to accepted principles of morality” because it would sanction “financial gain from what is universally accepted as a tragic event”, namely Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On further prodding, EUIPO objected that the slogan used “vulgar language with an insulting sexual connotation”.

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The Telegraph reports that New York state is about to decriminalize adultery, which has been a midemeanour since 1907 attracting maximum penalties of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine. In the modern era, there have been about a dozen prosecutions since 1972, resulting in five convictions – with the last prosecution, in 2010, settled by a plea bargain. Initiatives to scrap the law date back to 1964, but all failed.

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