Academic Advantage fires law firm that threatened Boing Boing

According to this article in California Watch, the tutoring company Academic Advantage has fired the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh over its ridiculous legal threats against Boing Boing.

For those of you who missed it, Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh sent us a letter alleging that we had caused "possibly irrevocable damage" to the reputation of its client, Academic Advantage, by publishing a blog post that contained the phrase "academic advantage" and, later, in one of the comments, the word "scam." Neither the original post nor the comment were related to the Academic Advantage tutoring service, and besides, US law clearly places responsibility for message-board posts on the poster, not the people who put up the message board. Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh's threat was one of the sloppiest, most careless piece of lawyering I've ever seen, a breathtaking example of depraved indifference and bullying.

David Silver, spokeman for Academic Advantage, said the comments published by pop culture site Boing Boing were not libelous and that the LA firm representing the company was wrong to say they were...

Academic Advantage has severed it relationship with the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh. The letter that the law firm sent to BoingBoing claiming that libel was committed on BoingBoing's website was a mistake.

I'm glad to see that Academic Advantage is getting shut of its hopeless lawyers. Perhaps they, or LAY, would consider making a good-faith donation to the Chilling Effects project, a clearing house that works to document and prevent the use of threats to censor the Internet?

K-12 company fires law firm over blog spat (Thanks, Hagrid!)


  1. Bravo to Academic Advantage for their display of common sense and decency. Let’s hope other companies follow suit and rid themselves of sue-happy attorneys who do more to harm the reputation of their clients than any purported case of blog libel.

  2. If I were Academic Advantage, I’d be discussing Jubin Niamehr and the firm Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh with regulatory bodies and my new lawyers. Their legal shenanigans got them a lot of bad press.

  3. There once was a law firm Lazar
    Whose lawyering was a trifle bizarre,
    And served no advantage —
    Only academic scam-age,
    Which led to the shout: “Huzzah! Dis-bar!”

  4. Bravo to Academic Advantage for doing the right thing here. Speaking for myself (and myself alone), I consider the matter resolved as far as Academic Advantage is concerned, and will no longer post any comments referring to them per se after this (unless they do something else that is so boneheaded as to be worthy of comment, of course).

    However, that doesn’t let the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh off the hook. Are they prepared to apologize to BoingBoing and admit their error? If so, I’m fully prepared to extend them the same courtesy I’ve just extended to their former clients. But, if not, then I’m going to keep asking questions such as: Should the law form of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh be disciplined by the California bar? Should Jubin Niamehr be fired from the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh? Should Jubin Niamehr be disbarred? Was the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh complicit in the death of Michael Jackson? Can Jubin Niamehr prove that he’s not a neo-Nazi skinhead? etc.

    And, if I get a nasty letter from the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh for writing this, I’ll just use the tried and true Glenn Beck defense: “I’m not claiming anything, here. I’m just asking questions.”

  5. They are correct to fire Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh. It sounds like the law firm was billing hours and showing their billable work by harassing somewhat random websites where scam and their clients name both appeared. Another other possibility is that the law firm had obtained exclusive rights to police their clients IP as a legal privateer and make a profit by sailing the high intertubes extorting cash settlements from websites rather than billing the client.

  6. Props to Academic Avantage for taking action. However, I’m still wondering why Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh haven’t publicly denied the rumour I heard that they were involved in the rape and murder of a young girl in the 1980s. At best, Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh’s lack of comment can be seen as a tacit admission that they are involved in malpractice, and by continuing practise despite these rumours, that any legal threats issued by them until they publicly deny these rumours makes Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh guilty of issuing spurious legal threats.

    So come on Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh, if you’ve got nothing to hide, why not deny the allegations? If I worked for Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh I’d definitely want to clear my name so that people don’t think they are guilty by association of malpractice, malfeasance, issuing spurious claims, and contempt. I’d certainly want to clear up any ambiguity about the rumours of their involvement in rape and murder.

  7. Justice served, good job Academic Advantage. :D

    (we’re ranking #4 and #9 for ‘academic advantage’ here in AU)

  8. Glad this is resolved. Still, it does beg the question, is Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh a scam? Has anyone yet claimed that Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh is a scam? Because, given recent events, I would be surprised if no one was saying that Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh is a scam.

    …cause it is. a scam. Errrm, allegedly.

  9. They should probably claim damages due to the rampant association we managed to create on the original post.

  10. Since this post is about law and legal definitions, I’d just point out that Cory’s use of “depraved indifference” is over-strong…it’s typically reserved as a definition for kinds of murder and manslaughter.

  11. I am always in favor of firing lawyers (preferably out of cannons) and I applaud AA for their actions. However, let’s face it, AA only did so because it was the right “business” decision, not simply because it was the right thing to do. AA exists to make money, if this incident wasn’t hurting them in some way, it never would have received their attention. I’m a cynic, I know…

    1. Wrong or right, I contend that you don’t really know why they did it. You just said that because of the clown incident when you were a child.

      1. EVERYTHING that I do is because of the clown incident when I was a child. (How did you know about that?)

  12. Fuck yeah, BB!

    I love it when the over-legalization of the world gets slapped down, and legal norming flows in the other direction for once.

  13. As soon as I saw the headline, I started laughing my butt off.

    That was quick. I guess the company is more net-savvy than the law firm. (Which isn’t saying much.)

  14. sweet! I can just imagine Academic Advantage’s execs taking a CLOSE look at the billing records, this, and going W!T!F!

  15. From the lawyer letter

    “I thank you in advance for your cooperation in resolving these matters.”

    I’m pretty sure he didn’t plan on the resolution involving his butt being kicked to the curb.

  16. I removed “Academic” and “Advantage” from a page on my blog that contained a list of very not nice words about no one in particular. I hope the search spiders find it soon.
    The words “Lazar” “Akiva” “Yagoubzadeh” “Jubin” and “Niamehr” remain on that wordlist for the time being, however. No claims are made on this wordlist page; I just think that, taken out of context, these words add a lovely nonsensical silliness to that page that boost its aesthetic appeal.

  17. It’s great Academic Advantage came to their senses on this one, but they still have serious problems as pointed out in the original post. For starters, they have pages and pages of censored (read: deleted) 1-star Yelp reviews, and there are still claims online about them not paying employees and tutors. I don’t know Academic Advantage, I’m not even in LA, but simply firing a bunch of assholes at a law firm doesn’t magically fix your business overnight. Hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction. Time — and new Yelp reviews — will tell.

    1. but simply firing a bunch of assholes at a law firm doesn’t magically fix your business overnight

      That sounds messy… what caliber of cannon do use for firing assholes?

  18. Firing the law firm for failing to distinguish between actual critics and completely unrelated blog posts doesn’t mean Academic Advantage has renounced the tactic of trying to stifle internet discussion of their business practices by threatening suit.

  19. Above, “Anon” claims that Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh is a scam. Further, “Anon” (not known if this is the same Anon or another, anon … ) posits that Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh is an ambulance chasing service. Furthermore, this story seems to point to the fact that Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh have been disbarred by their client — now an ex-client. One might conclude from all the above that the appellation “shyster” was created just for the likes of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh.

  20. Oh, please. Organization with reputation issues hires an attack dog law firm to harass and intimidate their detractors, and fire them when they find they chose poorly. AA isn’t the good actor here. As my dad used to say, it’s not sorry if you’re only sorry you got caught.

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