Notice to Person's Searching for a Lawyer
Notice to Person's Searching for a Lawyer
I write this as a notice to all person’s searching online for a lawyer. I do so because, for whatever reason, I am receiving a lot of connections from people looking for legal help that I am not qualified to give.
To be very clear, I am a criminal defence lawyer and Alberta roadside sanctions lawyer; meaning that my practice is exclusively focussed in these areas. I am not a real estate lawyer, an immigration lawyer, a family law practitioner, a lawyer who sues, or a corporate lawyer – I am only a criminal lawyer. Since impaired driving and its related offences, such as refusing to blow and operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol at or over the legal limit are Criminal Code offences, I also practice in the related field of roadside sanctions. A roadside sanctions case is one where a person has received a “Notice of Administrative Penalty” in relation to an impaired driving investigation.
If you contact the Law Society, you will see that my practice area is listed exclusively in the field of criminal law.
Due to Google and other web search platforms, I have been receiving a spate of inquiries from persons searching for lawyers in just about every field other than my own. A few people have gotten irritated with me, claiming that I am falsely advertising. I imagine this occurs because they search for a specific kind of lawyer and my name pops up. For example, I recently received a call from a person seeking a “corporate litigation lawyer”. When I explained that I am not a corporate lawyer, he said that my information came up in a Google search and that “maybe I should change my website”. Unless I have missed something somewhere on my website, it in no way advertises that I am anything other than an Alberta based criminal defence lawyer and roadside sanctions lawyer. Within minutes after that call, I received an inquiry from an Ontario caller seeking a real estate lawyer. When I explained to him that I do not practice real estate, he advised that my name came up in a search for real estate lawyers. This was odd, because I do not practice or advertise in this field.
It is a result of these back-to-back calls and many others that I wish to address my practice areas, Internet presence and wish to give some advice to help direct your search.
My Web Presence
So everybody is aware, I only have a single website listing online: www.calgary-law.ca . I only run a single Google Ad that connects to this website. My Google Ad focusses on keywords such as Calgary criminal lawyer, Alberta roadside sanctions lawyer and so forth. I assure you that it is not designed by me to register for any lawyer other than one practicing in criminal defence.
My actual website only advertises that I am a “criminal defence lawyer” and only speaks to areas of practice relating to criminal law, such as drug offences, impaired driving, domestic assault, homicide, firearms, roadside sanctions etcetera.
I have noticed that Google often attaches unauthorized negative keywords to my website, causing it to display as part of Google searches that have nothing to do with my business. By way of example, Google has added unauthorized negative keyword searches connecting my business to coffee shops, department stores, airlines, restaurants and of course, search terms relating to areas of law that have nothing to do with the specifics of my practice. I am not responsible for these negative keyword associations and have done everything I can to eliminate them. The problem is, Google constantly creates, without notice or authorization, new negative keyword associations. I suspect Google does this to expand the range of my cost-per-click advertising for the purpose of more quickly burning up my advertising budget.
By way of evidence to this point, on May 4th, 2023 -- after I rejected about a dozen unauthorized added Google negative keywords from my Google advertisement -- I noticed that a short time later, Google added unauthorized negative keywords. These keywords included "McDonalds", "Bow Valley Christian Church", "Beaners Fun" and the improperly spelled word "lawier". This begs the question: why did Google unauthorized include my Google Ad to these words? The reason is likely that the Google search algorithm has noted that focussed keywords (such as those on my website) do not burn up my daily cost-per-click advertising budget, so they decide to advertise me for other searches. Arguably, this is nothing short of fraud. However, for those seeking a lawyer, please accept my apology if my advertisement shows up in places where it should not, because I have limited or no control over this.
What is litigation
Sometimes my website will show under the broad search term “litigation lawyer”. This is not necessarily an incorrect association.
Please understand, the word “litigation” is very broad. "To litigate" means "to seek resolution of a legal contest through a legal process". "Litigation" is defined as “the act or process of litigating”. This means that litigation can occur in just about every legal field and is not exclusive to any single area of practice. Criminal law is a particularly litigation heavy legal practice field. To be clear, l I only practice in the area of criminal litigation. My legal practice is restricted to persons charged with crime or who have received a Notice of Administrative Penalty/Roadside Sanction.
I have also noticed that Google and Bing are littered with websites who have, without my authorization, backlinked my business. Some of these backlink websites even contain a description of my business and some do not accurately reflect my business. For point of accurate reference, the only website that I run is www.calgary-law.ca and such, that is the only website that anybody looking to retain me or learn about me should rely upon.
As I receive many calls every day from persons who are not in need of a criminal defence lawyer or a roadside sanctions lawyer, I often quickly triage with three simple questions: “have you have been charged with a crime, are you about to be charged with a crime or have you received a roadside sanction”. If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, it is almost certain that I am not the lawyer for you. Please understand, I am not meaning to be dismissive of your circumstances; rather, I am only communicating that I am not the person who can help and as such your energy would be better spent on finding somebody who can. Of course, my energy also needs to focus on those who I can help.
As a business owner, and similar to almost every Alberta criminal lawyer, I am forced by necessity to have an Internet presence. I appreciate that just as most businesses use the Internet, almost everybody uses the Web to find help when they need it. If your search engine result directs you to me for help that I cannot give, please understand that I am not trying to waste your time or be dismissive. In fact, I assure you that if I had the power to restrict all calls exclusively to my field of practice, I would. Therefore, if I am quick to triage your situation by telling you that I am “not that kind of lawyer”, please don’t take it personally; for I am doing the best I can to navigate the challenges of a complex business environment where artificial intelligence or perhaps even intentional behaviour by popular search engines looking to generate pay-per-click advertising has created improper or unauthorized connections.
I suspect that as you search Google or Bing, you will also find a lot of outdated contact information relating to me. For instance, due to the actions of Internet Fraudsters, I no longer openly share my fax line. Therefore, if you see a fax number relating to me on the Internet, please do not contact that number because it is no longer active or associated with me. Similarly, I have been forced to shut down my general email address. This decision was made in large measure because of the relentless activity of scammers and Internet marketers who happily flooded my business with unauthorized, unsolicited, irrelevant and dangerous communications.
I have even spotted some Internet sites containing very outdated information. To that end, my office is no longer in the Beltline or Downtown Calgary and I no longer have a Lethbridge office. Since year 2016, my office has been located at 212, 4616 Valiant Drive N.W., Calgary, AB. This office is open by appointment only.
If you are looking to connect with me, please do so only via the contact information listed on my actual website: www.calgary-law.ca
A Word of Advice
In many respects, the Internet is a useful tool, capable of providing ready information on a plethora of subjects. However, as all of us use the Internet, it is important to bear in mind that despite all the good, there is also a lot of bad.
The Internet is not only a critical tool for bonfire users, it is a playground for fraudsters. Internet is a zone of information controlled in large measure by artificial intelligence that uses algorithms to create connections. Of course companies like Google and Microsoft exist to make money. The brilliance and scope of their search platforms allows them to find creative ways to benefit their bottom-line. The point is, we should all tread cautiously on the net. If you are searching for a business to help you, I encourage you to do so responsibly and to remember, that sometimes certain businesses may be conflated with others.
My advice to anybody searching for a criminal defence lawyer online is to act with all due diligence. Just as there are many unexceptional criminal lawyers with frontline Google placement, there are many exceptional defence lawyers with no placement at all. There are even non-criminal defence lawyers with high search engine placement as criminal defence lawyers.
Even Google reviews should be viewed with a high degree of scepticism. I strongly suspect that many businesses – including lawyers – have false reviews. There are also some outstanding lawyers burdened with either no online reviews or negative reviews. A negative review does not necessarily mean that the negatively reviewed lawyer is wrong for anybody. Remember, people are more likely to complain than to say a kind word. Some negative reviews may even be unfair or false. It should come as no surprise that legal participants are not generally in a happy place.
Since my hypocrisy has limitations, the lessons in the aforementioned paragraph equally apply to my online business profile.
If you are using the Internet to find a lawyer, I recommend you review their website and if that lawyer operates in the legal domain in which you need help, contact that lawyer and communicate with him or her. Assess the communication and do not make any hasty decisions. Remember, some lawyers can sell a rusted old Jalopy better than the most prolific used car salesman.
Your job is to speak to as many lawyers as you are comfortable with and definitely more than one. A simple telephone call can reveal a lot about the lawyer, especially if you are comparing and contrasting lawyers with each other. When you are speaking to any lawyer, remember that he or she likely has many clients, all who need help. With that in mind, it is important to remember that you are one of many and as such, if you have connected with a lawyer who does not practice in the area that you need, he or she may triage your situation quickly. This is not done to be rude or dismissive; rather, for many it is done so that they can help the people whom they are qualified to assist.
If you are looking to hire me, I can only offer legal services in criminal law and roadside sanctions.
I also prioritize my clients by order of necessity. If I am in trial or involved in other criminal litigation that requires my immediate attention, I may not be easy to reach; I may even tell you that I have to call back. Should that occur, please do not take it personally for I make best efforts to deal with the cases that are directly in front of me. Should you retain me, I expect that you will be happy to be prioritized when necessity matters as well.
I wish you all the best in your search and sincerely hope that you find the legal help that you need.
David G. Chow