by Michael Bluejay | April 26, 2013
For many years I’ve had a page listing personal injury lawyers who specialize in helping bicyclists. Next to one of them, Lenore Shefman, I noted, “Personally, I’m a little put off that she also defends drunk drivers.” (Her multiple websites aggressively courted drunk-driving clients, and she even secured domain names like DUIattorneysBayArea.com, AustinTXDWIDefense.com, and CentralTexasDWIlawyer.com.) But now that she’s apparently given up that area of her practice, she’s trying to weasel out of her history. A few months ago she wrote to me to complain about my listing her as defending drunk drivers and asking me to take that bit down, saying, “[O]nce upon a time ago an ex public defender was ‘of counsel’ with my office and represented criminal defendants of all sorts. There is no record of me in ATX representing any drunk drivers nor having any clients, thus this is a misrepresentation.” What Shefman conveniently failed to mention in her message was that:
- She aggressively courted drunk driving clients, whether she handled those cases personally or not.
- This fishing for DWI clients wasn’t just done under the banner of her law firm, but under her own personal name as well, Lenore Shefman. So it’s kind of silly for her to try to pass the buck onto someone who worked in her office, since she willingly agreed to make DUI defense a focus of her firm, including marketing it under her own name, including under her own Attorney Profile.
- She still advertises her DUI defense services on her own websites, today. So she’s complaining about my listing her as DUI lawyer, at the same time she lists herself as a DUI lawyer. That’s some chutzpah, for sure.
I was originally put off about her courting DUI clients, but she really took it to the next level by trying to disavow it. It might have been another matter had she approached me and said, “We used to do DUI defense, but I was never really comfortable with it, and so I’m not doing that any more.” But she didn’t say anything remotely like that; instead she tried to deny her culpability about her decision to aggressively court DUI offenders. Anwyay, she somehow imagined that I would just completely remove the bit on my site to her DUI practice, as though she’d never had one, which is just silly. If I updated the page, I would haved simply tweaked it from “I’m put off that she defends drunk drivers” to the almost identical “I’m put off about her history of courting drunk-driving clients.” The difference is negligible, from the perspective of what I’m actually put off about. But with literally thousands of messages in my In Box, coddling a lawyer trying to disavow her history wasn’t a big priority for me (especially since Shefman’s own sites continue to identify her DUI practice), so making the minor edit to my site wasn’t very high on my To-Do list. Well, it turns out that Shefman is actually a big donor to a certain bicycle advocacy group, so when I didn’t reply to her request that I excise the bit on my site about her defending drunks, she wrote to the head that group, to see if he’d put some pressure on me to remove the reference. She apparently tried to pull the wool over his eyes with misleading wording, referring to “… the improper info about me defending drunk drivers. It is not true and he [Bluejay] should really take it down.” So I replied to him with a laundry list of examples of how Shefman both aggressively marketed herself as a DUI lawyer (or at least allowed her partner to use her name for such), and how third parties listed her as a DUI lawyer, including:
Her own websites advertising her DUI defense
- On a “Practice Areas” page, the very first thing under “Areas of Practice…Criminal Defense” is “DUI/DWI Defense”. This page was up and live the very day she wrote to the bike group to complain about my site listing her as a DUI lawyer.
- There’s also an entire page devoted entirely to DUI defense, live on the net the same day she wrote to complain about being branded as a DWI lawyer.
- AustinTexasDWIDefense.com and CentralTexasDWIlawyer.com, both of which identified her by her personal name (Lenore Shefman) and then went straight into the pitch for DUI defense, peppered with phrases like “Lawyer up!” and “We fight to win!”
- GLBT-Attorneys.com. Under “Attorney Profile: Lenore Rae Shefman”, it says, “Most of her practice is dedicated to bicycle accidents, the construction defect of swimming pools, and DUI/DWI/Marijuana Defense.” (As I write this, that page is still up, as are six other pages on that site referencing DUI defense, including a dedicated page soley about DUI/DWI.)
- CyclistLaw.com. A testimonial reads, “When I asked Lenore to advice [sic] my brother charged with a DUI, she helped my brother and parents navigate the San Jose court system in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.” The testimonial was posted Feb. 7, 2013, and as I write this, it’s still up.
- TheLoneStarAttorney.com. The page “Attorney Profile: Lenore Rae Shefman” lists “DWI/DUI” in the menu. As I write this, that page is still up.
- Her Twitter account, still up that same day she wrote to complain, listing her personal name (Lenore Shefman), along with the tagline, “Bay Area DUI Defense Firm”. The only tweet there, under the name Lenore Shefman, says, “Let us know if we can help with your DUI case and we would be happy to assist you.”
- DUIattorneysBayArea.com, which read in part: “In California, DUI is a serious offense that carries severe punishment and fines. You need an experienced DUI attorney to protect your interests…. The power of having a skilled and determined attorney will make all the difference in either exonerating you of the charges against you or negotiating a plea.If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances, contact the Shefman Law Group. Our DUI attorneys have extensive experience in the practice of criminal DUI law and can also assist you with the associated DMV hearing….The Shefman Law Group will fight to make sure you are not treated unfairly and that you are provided the best defense….Practicing in all nine surrounding San Francisco counties, we fight to win!”
Her promotion of her DUI practice elsewhere
- Law Guru has eight separate “Drunk Driving & DUI Law Questions Answered by Lenore Shefman”.
- In the first question, the questioner admitted to both drinking and smoking marijuana while driving, and asked if they should fight the charges, and Shefman’s answer started, “Excellent. Call us immediately, in our SF office.”
- In another, the answer included, “Contact us so we can explore reducing, and/or dismissing the charges against you or work on getting an acquittal.”
- In another, Shefman advised, “You have to be careful that you do not get an attorney who will just plea your case…. So, if you ad up the surcharges ($1000 yr x 3 years), the probation costs, the counseling costs, the drug testing, the SR-22 insurance, etc. etc. you will be doing yourself a favor by getting an attorney who is not afraid of the courtroom. If you would like to give us a call our phone number is on our websites: Shefman Law Group at www.austintexasDWIdefense.com or www.centraltexasDWIlawyer.com”
Third-party sites listing her as a DUI lawyer, live on the web the same day she wrote to complain
- Avvo: “Lenore Rae Shefman: Practice Areas – 100% DUI/DWI“
- Law Guru: “Lenore Shefman: Areas of Practice: … Drunk Driving & DUI Law”
- FindTheBest: “Main Area: DUI Defense”
- Attorney Fee: “Lenore Shefman is a DUI Defense Attorney”
- Yahoo! Local: “Shefman, Lenore Attorney…Categories: … DUI Lawyers … Products and Services: … DUI/DWI“
Since Shefman had complained that what I wrote about her defending drunks was “improper and untrue”, I mentioned in my reply to the bicycle group director that if she really felt that was the case, of course she could try her luck suing me, but that given the evidence I figured she’d be laughed out of court. I cc’d Shefman on the reply. Shefman’s reply to me was priceless: “I am in receipt of your responses and your lack of understanding how the internet and caches work.” [!] So, at the risk of pointing out the obvious:
- The pages from four of her own websites (including her main site), her Twitter account, Law Guru, and the five other third-party sites I cited were not cached copies, they were live, direct from the server, on the very same day she wrote to the bike advocacy group to complain about my site. Most of them are still up and live as I write this.
- Whether or not they were cached couldn’t be less relevant. The point is, Shefman aggressively marketed herself as a DUI lawyer (or at the very least allowed a partner to do so, using Shefman’s own personal name).
But it doesn’t end there, she also threatened to sue me (which is why I decided to put up this page):
“I also understand you have requested that in order for me to remedy your false claims that I am a DUI/DWI lawyer or represent that population that I sue you for libel. Given your capacity to be extraordinary I can oblige your request. I am certain I would not be laughed out of court.”
Again, to point out the obvious, I absolutely never requested that she sue me. (What kind of person asks to be sued?!) I just pointed out that she could try but that I expected any such attempt to fail miserably. But more to the point, after she advertises herself as a DUI lawyer, she’s now threatening to sue someone for identifying her as one! Wow. But there’s more:
“I also think it is a shame that you want to sully our name when we are the first and only law firm to forge any alliances with MADD or any other advocacy group against drinking and driving on behalf of the cycling community.”
Oh dear god. If it sullies Shefman’s name to be identified as defending drunk drivers, then why the hell did she choose to defend drunk drivers?! Shouldn’t she take some responsibility for her decision to take DUI clients, rather than, you know, blaming someone else for pointing out that she chose to take DUI clients? And again, Shefman herself is currently identifying herself as a DUI lawyer, on her various websites. Anyway, if Shefman is now actually working to combat drunk driving then that’s great, but based on my interactions with her I’m more than a little suspcious that any support might just be her trying to buy some credibility (if she’s actually doing any real anti-DWI work at all). Sadly, Shefman hadn’t exhausted her ridiculous comments to me:
“What is on the internet is not a representation of how I have held myself out, you should know this. You have quoted sites such as AVVO etc. and these are consumer sites not sites where I or any of my representatives have listed myself nor my firm.”
Which completely ignores the fact that she advertised/advertises herself as a DUI lawyer on her own websites:
- Her Twitter account
I don’t know which is sadder: Shefman’s attempt to whitewash her history, or her belief that I would buy into her bullshit arguments about why I should help her do so. In any event, the summary couldn’t be clearer:
- If Lenore Shefman didn’t actually handle DUI cases (and I don’t know that she didn’t), it was certainly from no lack of trying, with her multiple websites advertising her DUI business, with her own personal name (not just her firm’s name) attached.
- I will not be bullied by sleazy lawyers into censoring factual information about them.
Update, May 8, 2013 Based on a forum post I made about this issue, Shefman sent me the following predictably ridiculous message:
As we discussed and as you are aware my office has not represented criminal cases of any kind in years. Therefore you are well informed what you are publishing is untrue. The very definition of libel is purposefully publishing untrue statements a fact easily proven through the court registers and even your own screen shots are of cached websites that we have dates they were live and dates they were replaced.
Clearly from your own emails and your postings your point is to damage my reputation as a personal injury attorney representing victims and their families of DWI/DUI and to publicly question my veracity because of some things you have found in the Internet that clearly I have no control over.
This seems to be a personal attack you have mounted to do nothing more than harm my reputation as a bike crash personal injury attorney. I clearly appreciate the work defense attorneys do to represent those accused, that is simply not what I do not has anyone in my employ since 2006-7 when Mr. Burnham left my practice.
This was forwarded to me and I find I am having to engage publicly in your personal attacks. Therefore there is starting to be an affect [sic] and you are personally attacking my integrity which I take grave umbrage at such attacks.
I am asking in one last effort to meet and confer on this topic that you remove content that you know to be false and cannot support.
Before this article, Shefman’s initial response was to try to claim that her current websites were actually cached copies, and to threaten to sue me. Then when I posted my article, her response was…to try to claim that her current websites were actually cached copies, and to threaten to sue me. Brilliant.
I didn’t reply to her. And again, to point out the obvious:
- I never published anything untrue. Shefman aggressively courted drunk driving clients, and I reported that fact. End of story.
- The pages I identified as current were not cached copies. In fact, some of them are still up, even as I type this. And even if they were cached, that’s irrelevant to the fact that Shefman aggressively courted DUI clients.
- “…because of some things you have found in the Internet that clearly I have no control over.” She doesn’t have any control over her own websites?! Hello?
- Shefman is again suggesting she will sue me by laying out the definition of libel. When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.