Over the past few months, there have been some stories about a message board for law students that some have blamed for costing them job offers. One female Yale law student says she interviewed with 16 firms, and didn't receive a single offer, pointing the finger at postings about her on the message board that were potentially defamatory or offensive. Now, that student and another female classmate have sued a former employee of the site, as well as several people who posted on the site under pseudonyms. Their suit claims they've suffered "substantial psychological and economic injury" from the messages, and asks for $245,400 in punitive damages plus other unspecified damages. It's nice to see the suit going after the posters, rather than the site itself, since that's how the law is supposed to work. Still, without wanting to downplay the nasty nature of many of these comments, it seems like there's plenty of overreaction to go around here. Again, it seems rather unlikely that so many firms would pass over such a supposedly promising student based solely on these message threads, which they may or may not have seen. Furthermore, the fact that one of the Jane Does apparently hired a company to "defend her reputation" online -- which apparently charges a separate fee per item they get taken offline -- appears to have encouraged the juvenile morons attacking her to only step things up. It's also not particularly clear what this case will help accomplish, apart from a potentially chilling effect on law-student speech. Winning the case, and $250,000 or more in damages, won't put the cat back in the bag, and if the students think the messages kept them from getting jobs, what will be the effect of the inevitable stories about the suit that turn up in Google searches?
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