Following yesterday’s Lawyerist post criticizing current methods of class action notice by publication, which received some great coverage by Reuters, it got us wondering: is there even an appetite in the legal community for changes to the way class members are notified?
Currently, most class action notices are made by publication in print newspapers. But print newspaper circulation has been on a drastic decline for years now. The largest-circulation newspapers in the United States are read by—at most—1%-2% of households. An ad in the back of one of these papers can not be expected to be seen by many people.
Due process requires—at a minimum—meaningful notice before depriving someone of their property. Property includes the right to bring a legal claim, and so includes opt-out class actions…
On the publication theme, perhaps notice should follow the former readers of newspapers to blogs and websites. Advertisers have, and a legal notice is basically a form of advertisement. For example, service by publication using a one-month banner ad on any of the Top 100 blogs would probably reach a wider audience than USA Today. But that ignores the advantage of advertising on the internet: specific targeting.
Advertisers can reach just about everyone on the internet based on what they are interested in. People tend to complain about their problems and look for solutions to their problems online, on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and many other websites. Well-optimized ad buys targeted to keywords related to the class action claims could reach a huge chunk of a class. And website analytics could quickly assess the effectiveness of the notice.
Is Sam right? Are current methods of class action notification—text-ad publication in the the legal notices section of national and local print newspapers—out of date? Might strategic use of the internet be a more effective method of notifying citizens of their legal rights?
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