[I]t seems to me that the likely reasons for Doe I's striking out were among the normal reasons why many people who look great on paper don't do as well in the hiring market as they'd like -- they don't seem that interested in firm jobs, their credentials aren't really that good, they come across as too quiet or nervous, they come across as too brash and self-important, they flub some questions, they rub the interviewers the wrong way, some of their professors are unimpressed by them and say so, and so on.By making the causal connection an issue in the case, Doe I forces the defendants to try to prove that there are other causes. They'll want to get discovery from the law firms that interviewed her and find out what the reasons were. This could be quite bad. (I once testified in a federal case in which the law school was sued for reverse discrimination in hiring. I'd been a chair of the Appointments Committee, and I had to explain at length why the plaintiff's credentials were far below what we look for in faculty hiring.)
Even if the firms actually did take into account ridiculous material they found on line, they are going to minimize their own bad behavior, and:
What's more, the law firms aren't being painted as the bad guys in this law suit, so it's not a case where (for instance) someone sues an employer for discrimination and the employer's badmouthing of the plaintiff could be put off to the employer's racism or sexism or what have you. It's just sixteen law firms that come across as largely disinterested bystanders (despite the possible reason to shade the truth that I mention above, a reason that is likely not to be prominent in observers' mind) and that talk about how Doe I botched her interview, or about how her grades were really pretty weak. That's not exactly the best publicity for an aspiring young lawyer, especially given that the case about online chatter is likely to lead to online chatter.And he's not even mentioning the negative effect of revealing your propensity to litigate.
Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds calls attention to Patterico's post -- which is also critical of me -- and says:
Patterico... thinks I'm wrong to be dismissive of the plaintiff's claims. Well, I'm pretty thick-skinned about Internet trash-talk -- when I teach libel I give my students a few choice search terms and let them see what people have said about me. They're usually appalled, but I've never sued anyone, and the list of things about which I might actually sue is awfully short. Besides, once you get past the puppy-blending stuff, who's going to believe much of anything they read?And I could put together tons of terrible things people have said about me -- people who are actively trying to destroy my reputation, who publish many lies about me, and who allow their commenters to post using my name (even after I have repeatedly requested the deletion of those comments).
But I've never seriously considered suing anyone over it.... and not just because I'm hoping -- like Glenn -- that people won't believe it. It offends my principles and my sense of decency to intimidate people who are exercising free speech. These lawsuits have an ugly chilling effect, and I wouldn't want to be part of it.
I'm not saying there's nothing that would push me over the line, though, so don't take this as an encouragement to push the anti-Althousiana envelope.... not that I think those who toil in the genre have the creativity to push the envelope beyond the usual dumb stuff about my being an evil insane idiot who doesn't deserve to be a law professor.