As detailed here, after being subjected to a series of attacks online by a scamblogger named Dybbuk, Professor Nancy Leong was able to ascertain his identity and sought to contact him. Unsurprisingly, Dybbuk, who is apparently a federal public defender in his late 40s, declined to speak with her. Professor Leong then filed an ethics complaint against him for his allegedly sexist and racist online comments. Professor Leong claims to have consulted with ethics experts before doing so.
This story is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it tends to suggest that a movement that has been successful in warning young people that law school might not be a safe investment has to some extent been hijacked by individuals with personal axes to grind. Dybbuk is not a marginal figure in the scamblog world, and the eponymous Paul Campos has written not one but two posts criticizing Professor Leong. One of his posts claims that Professor Leong is "[trying] to leverage phony claims of racial victimization" into a job with a higher-ranking law school. Professor Bartow rightly takes him to task here.
Second, I think this story reflects that the legal world has too quickly forgotten the Autoadmit controversy, which Brad had an excellent post about here. The creators of Autoadmit were not responsible for most of the offensive posts on their site, just as Dybbuk did not post some of the worst claims about Professor Leong. But it is unrealistic to expect state bars and legal employers to ignore the online conduct of current and future lawyers.
New York, for example, prohibits attorneys from engaging "in any other conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer." If a lawyer spends his free time posting sexist and racist thoughts about other lawyers online (if this is what Dybbuk was in fact doing), it would not be unreasonable for a state bar to believe that he is not fit to practice law, and individuals have been denied bar admission on similar bases. See also MR 8.4, cmt. 3. If such comments were posted during work hours, one would also expect some action from his employer. This is not to suggest that any consequences are warranted in this case, but online anonymity is not and should not be sacrosanct.
[Disclosure: I do not know and have not consulted with any of the individuals named in this post].