The 2008 ABA Journal Blawg 100
These are the 100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers, as chosen by the editors of the ABA Journal.
The voting period has ended.
Thank you to all who participated. The final results are listed below.
Niche: The writers focus on particular areas of the law that fewer lawyers are blogging about—or on practicing law in a very specific neck of the woods.
We’ve consistently heard from readers like Chris Holly who check Patently-O daily to keep up on developments (and jobs) in patent law. “I’m a patent prosecutor and reading the blog every day keeps me up to speed with what is going on in the patent world,” wrote Holly, an associate with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz in D.C. Co-authors Dennis Crouch of the University of Missouri School of Law and Jason Rantanen of the University of Iowa also have guest posts by other patent practitioners “that are insightful,” Holly wrote. We were excited to see a “Patent Ethics” corner started by Mercer University law prof David Hricik, but sorry to see it go on hiatus during his clerkship.
From one post: “We love finding fissures in the conservative movement and its generally disparaging views about the civil justice system.” Here, the plaintiffs-side Center for Justice & Democracy makes strident observations about newsy tort cases and never misses the humorous angles.
HALL OF FAME Whether or not you're sympathetic to tort reform and the idea that the government overregulates, Overlawyered is a little hair-raising and eye-opening. Its stated mission is to bring to light abuses of the legal system that raise costs and inhibit justice. Acquired this year by the Cato Institute, the blog is the project of Walter Olson, a senior Cato fellow. Having celebrated its 15th anniversary in July, Overlawyered says it may be the oldest legal blog: "At least, no one seems to be able to name one that's older." (Editor's note: After this issue went to press, Robert Ambrogi's Lawsites reported that Olson was not the first blogger: It was Greg Siskind.)
We couldn’t agree more with one fan who held up SCOTUSblog as “extraordinary,” a site that “sets the gold standard to which all blawgs should aspire.” Indeed, SCOTUSblog was on a roll in 2012 as it celebrated its 10-year anniversary, crossed over into pop culture as founder Tom Goldstein made an appearance on The Daily Show, and saw an astounding response to its live blog of the Supreme Court’s health care ruling. The coverage attracted 5 million hits and 1 million simultaneous users, including President Barack Obama.
HALL OF FAME Philadelphia lawyer Kelly Phillips Erb finds the tax angles of the day's major stories, sometimes consulting experts and sometimes sharing her own opinions on U.S. tax policy. Celebrities' tax woes often make appearances. This year, she also did a series of "back to school" posts that answered tax questions tied to the beginning of the academic year: Are tutoring services deductible? How do you document school-supply donations for tax purposes? Can you deduct expenses related to kids' sports?
Have trouble sorting through all the credit and bankruptcy rhetoric during the presidential campaign? The Bankruptcy Law Network, a group of seasoned consumer advocates and bankruptcy lawyers, was quick to post about these issues both in context and in plain English.
"The Drug and Device Law blog is the most timely, comprehensive blog I have found on prescription drug and medical device litigation. For recurring issues, the blog updates its scorecards and cheat sheets. For other issues, it offers in-depth summaries with thoughtful analysis. The quality of writing is excellent. As a result, despite its defense slant, the blog has garnered a diverse readership." —James M. Sullivan, Hollingsworth, Washington, D.C.
This blog by Howard Friedman, professor of law emeritus at the University of Toledo, is the Volokh Conspiracy's Eugene Volokh's "main news source on the law of government and religion, with prompt coverage of foreign and domestic news stories, and prompt links to pretty much all new American court decisions." Author and blogger Hemant Mehta keeps up with Friedman's blog as well. "He covers the big cases as well as the small ones that never make it into the mainstream media," Mehta writes.
Drexel’s Dan Filler is the new blogger on the block, joining the University of Chicago’s Leiter to keep the legal academy on top of law school news, including people moves, appointments and goings-on in administration, plus rankings and data to rival those published by U.S. News.
This all-points-military blog came to our attention when its post on a glaring SCOTUS omission landed on the front page of the New York Times and led to a request that the court reconsider a decision banning capital punishment for child rape. Contributors include current and former Navy JAG officers and military judges. Though we’d prefer to see posts organized by topic, we like the courts-martial news roundups and takes on important military law developments.
It’s not all fun and games here, where posts from law profs and others tackle all things from the nexus of law and sports. Think the Chicago Cubs’ playoff curse is off-topic? You’d be wrong. In an October post, contributor Howard Wasserman, a law professor at Florida International University, argued that the Cubs may have cursed themselves on the way to their last World Series victory in 1908 by winning a key game against the Giants with an act of “legal formalism.”
Those who are looking for insights into what makes a jury tick will find answers at Deliberations, a smart, captivating blog by Milwaukee’s Anne Reed, a trial lawyer and jury consultant. Her posts and analyses are conversational, smattered with enough jury news-of-the-weird to satisfy a general audience. Don’t miss her “juror misconduct” category and the “American Gallery of Juror Art.”
Legal Ethics Forum takes a dispassionate look at the choices and circumstances that get lawyers into hot water with professional regulators. With more than a dozen named co-authors from across the country, there’s always a fresh post and new perspective to consider.
The posts here often have us wondering, “What were they thinking?” If a lawyer strays from ethical boundaries, the professors who blog here are quick to pick up on the trail of any discipline with to-the-point, snark-free dispatches.
Law & Disorder is the fast-paced, first-on-the-scene legal blog from the technology website Ars Technica. Posts track developments in Internet law and policy in the U.S. and abroad.