Meet The Most Feared And Loathed Law Firm In Silicon Valley

Edelson McGuire

We haven’t taken any polls or conducted any surveys, but it’s a safe bet that the most hated law firm in Silicon Valley and the tech world beyond it is a Chicago-based outfit called Edelson McGuire.

On its Facebook page, Edelson says¬† “we care about the little guy,” and describes itself as a firm that takes on “high-profile class action suits to keep the corporate giants honest.”

Some people, however, think Edelson is little more than a collection of very talented shakedown artists.

They say Edelson follows a very specific pattern over and over and to great success:

  • Target a large and growing company with deep pockets. Specific examples include Google, Zynga, and Groupon.
  • Find something nitpicky to sue this company over. GrubHub published wrong prices on some restaurant menus! Groupon isn’t clear enough about groupon expiration dates!
  • Troll the Internet for people who might be willing to sign on as plaintiffs for a class-action suit. Build a site called ClassActionConnect.com and advertise it with Google keywords just for this purpose.
  • Bring the suit. Alert the media!
  • Accept a modest settlement from the accused company, which is willing to pay just to make the whole thing go away. Pay out tiny amounts to the plaintiffs who joined the class action. Take huge fees.
  • Party!
  • Rinse and repeat.

We’ve reached out to Edelson McGuire to clarify whether or not this is indeed how they operate. The firm has not yet responded.

We ourselves won’t dare suggest we know that this is the process; only that some people say it is.

(Please don’t sue us, scary lawyers!)

Anyway, a rough counts suggest Edelson McGuire has gone through the above process about 40 or so times. Some of Edelson’s opponents have been: Google, Zynga, Groupon, Yahoo, GrubHub, RockYou, Match.com, and Helio.

There was also a suit against a company called Menu Foods, which said it tested pet food that ended up being tainted.  Menu Foods probably got what it deserved.

As for the other plaintiffs: it’s debatable.

Most of the people we talked who have experience with Edelson McGuire (wisely) declined to go on the record with their views of the firm.

But one source just lamented that Edelson simply “makes business more expensive.”

Update: Jay Edelson says: “I’m a little offended you said we’re the most feared and loathed firm in Silicon Valley. I thought we had more global reach than that.”

“We’ve recovered over a billion dollars over the years so the idea that we’re just out for ourselves and not for a clients doesn’t resonate with me at all. You cite a few examples of what we’ve done, but we have a much broader history. We stopped tech spam in Asia, for example. We’ve recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for people who were getting unauthorised mobile charges. Now the FTC is getting involved 5 years after we did. The reason a lot of companies don’t like us is that the world we’re in now is you have these startups that move as quickly as possible and they don’t have the resources to get lawyers and think about the law. They’re focused on growing as fast as possible. What happens is they hit and then they try to sort out the problems. I think that’s the wrong way to do it.”

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