The Instapundit reports that a recruitment company called JL Kirk is upset with a blogger who thought they were more likely to con job-seekers out of money than get them a new job that they have called in Messrs Sue Grabbit & Runne. Now not being a Tennessee resident I had never heard of JL Kirk before so I have no idea if her original post (in February) was a big google hit or not but I can say that many bloggers and internet sites have picked up on the post now that the legal team has been brought in. All this publicity means that while google searches for "JL Kirk" have the company website at the top, search results 3-(some large number) are all about how JL Kirk are a bunch of con artists with something to hide. [Aside: logical searches such as "JL Kirk recruitment" or "JL Kirk headhunter" don't have the company website visible on the first page of google results at all which makes me think that the company really hasn't thought about search engine optimization]
I don't know whether the blogger libelled JL Kirk or not in a legal sense, but in the court of public opinion I think it is pretty clear that she did no more than anyone might do if they were upset with an organization. She reported a set of facts that seemed to indicate that something was a little odd and then, very clearly, drew some fairly logical conclusions and gave her opinion of the company based on her conclusions. The lawyers letter stating four things that they found particularly upsetting seems to demonstrate the weakness of the case:
JL Kirk Associates “…was formerly Bernald Haldane before it was purchased by Mr. Kirk Leipzig.”
That JL Kirk Associates personnel “use fear to motivate” potential clients to pay for services “without question and without the possibility of a refund.”
That, during your interview with your husband, there were questions “designed to help [you] as the insecure wife put more economic pressure” on your husband.
That the amount you were asked to pay “neatly” coincided with your tax refund “which is a matter of public record.”
Oddly a JK Kirk employ seems to directly contradict statement 1 in her response:
I suppose there may be a technical difference between the statement made by the original blogger and the statement made by the employee but to a lay mind they sound remarkably similar.Statements 2 and 3 sound like opinion and while it is true they aren't hedged about with "it seems to me"s or "appears to" or other weasel words when you read them. Statement 4 is plain silly.
So as a result of legal action a post that was made at the end of february and would most likely have disappeared into the mass of the Internet has now been revived and given more publicity. Even if the legal action has merit the attendant publicity would seem to have done far more damage to JL Kirk than simply ignoring the post, or maybe just replying on the blog as first happened.
Oh and I have no hesitation in saying that whether or not JL Kirk are well-intentioned or not the whole thing reminds me strongly of the agent and vanity publishing scammers who take aspiring authors to the cleaners. The rule in publishing is that money only flows to the author so if you have to pay for the service then its probably a scam, methinks much the same applies logic here. If a head hunter is unwilling (or unable) to get a recruitment fee paid for by the company then there seems to be no objection to it taking some sort of agent's fee from the salary of the new employee, but asking for an up front payment definitely sets all sorts of alarm bells ringing.