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When Jeff Brauer left his job serving of counsel to a law firm in China, he spent five months sending e-mails and hired two attorneys to collect $150,000 in unpaid compensation he claims the firm still owed him. When that didn’t work, he started his own blog. Within weeks, the managing partner of the firm “told me to take the blog down immediately. I realized that, actually, I should do precisely the opposite,” Brauer told The National Law Journal from China, where he has since started his own business consulting firm. “I was in the public eye, and that really made it sort of even more of a problem for them to . . . do anything to me.” The publicized spat, while extreme, exemplifies a growing tension between law firms and their current or former lawyers, or employees, who post negative or confidential information about their employers online. In the past year, at least two other blogs, www.skaddeninsider.-blogspot.com and www.abovethelaw.com, have raised eyebrows for publishing internal information at firms, such as confidential firings and sexual trysts with partners. Brauer’s blog, which began a month ago, is “really troubling,” said Daniel Harris of Seattle-based Harris & Moure, which operates www.chinalawblog.com, a blog that covered the dispute. “It’s pretty unprofessional to air dirty laundry the way this guy did,” he said. “And it gives you incredible power on a blog to do that.” Brauer, a Washington native, began working for Zhong Lun, a 400-lawyer law firm based in Beijing, in September 2005. He left in February of this year after the firm refused to pay him, he said. Brauer started his blog, http://chinalawyerblog.wordpress.com, because he said he couldn’t file a lawsuit under Chinese law. Almost immediately, he began receiving “unsettling” e-mailed threats from one of his ex-firm’s senior partners, he said. “Initially, the goal of the blog was to get paid,” he said. “But then, little by little, when I started getting hundreds of people sending me e-mail, and getting traffic really high, I realized there was a second purpose to this: Become an outlet for foreigners here. Some had problems like mine.” On July 16, Brauer said he met with the firm’s managing partner, Zhang Xuebing, who told him to shut down the blog. In exchange, Brauer would receive payment of his “outstanding debts,” according to a “final blog posting” on his site that week. The next week, a new posting, titled “Final Blog Posting, Or A New Beginning?” said that Zhong Lun had not yet paid Brauer and “if Zhong Lun again ignores its promises to pay Jeff, this blog will resume with more postings of corruption and greed this week.” Zhang did not return an e-mail seeking comment. While Brauer’s blog is unusual, other blogs are vexing law firms whose internal information gets posted online. Earlier this year, “two people” working at New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom launched www.-skaddeninsider.blogspot.com because, according to the blog, they “just thought a Skadden blog would be fun.” The blog notes that the firm has no involvement. The most recent post was poking fun at a firm e-mail inviting associates to a lunch with U.S. presidential candidate and Senator Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. that, at a cost of $500, was “truly a bargain.” Skadden declined to comment. “I’m sure there are people at the firm who watch that every day,” said Kevin O’Keefe, president of LexBlog Inc., a consulting firm in Bainbridge Island, Wash. Another blog, www.abovethelaw.com, posts gossip about law firms from the lawyers themselves. In recent posts, the blog reported that a Clifford Chance partner was seen romantically involved with a summer associate at a corporate reception and that Katten Muchin Rosenman “canned” a summer associate earlier this month for inappropriate sexual conduct. A Clifford Chance spokeswoman declined to comment on “internal personnel matters,” but issued a statement saying, “Clifford Chance has strict policies against inappropriate behavior of any kind within our workplace, applicable to every employee and attorney.” A Katten Muchin spokesman did not return calls seeking comment. David Lat, editor of www.abovethelaw.-com, which is owned by New York-based Dead Horse Media, said the blog promises anonymity, which helps people act on their “human instinct” to “unburden themselves of a secret.” So far, he said, no law firm has asked him to remove material from the blog, but “an associate or a partner will tell me, ‘Your post about this subject or that subject caused a stir around here.’ “

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