Posted Dec 01, 2015 04:50 am CST
Click here to read the 9th Annual Blawg 100.
Click here to read: What is the state of the legal blogosphere?
In 2012, we established the Blawg 100 Hall of Fame for those blogs which had consistently been outstanding throughout multiple Blawg 100 lists. The inaugural list contained 10 inductees; this year, we added 10 more, bringing the total to 40. The descriptions which follow were written in the year the blog joined the Hall of Fame.
Warning labels on products generally result from someone, somewhere trying something boneheaded, whether it be the consumer or the company itself. At Abnormal Use, breathtaking examples of the tort cases that result from such failures of judgment are cataloged and analyzed. If you’re a comic book fan, you’ll also enjoy the classic covers used to illustrate the Friday Links posts.
In a Supreme Ambitions post this fall, David Lat summed up the blog he founded in this way: “Above the Law … covers the legal profession at large, in a sweeping, high/low mix—from the heights of the U.S. Supreme Court to the depths of disgraced and depraved attorneys.” That pretty much nails it. We’ll also note that ATL has added directories of law schools, law firms and recruiters this year, as well as a few new columnists.
Law firm consultant Bruce MacEwen’s “synthesis of economics and the law is especially interesting in the work I do and because both topics, separately and combined, make for great reading post-2008. Moreover, MacEwen is a careful writer, and his articles reflect that.” —Mark Reber, senior marketing manager at Bullivant Houser Bailey in Portland, Oregon
Clear writing in a contract can avert disaster, and Ken Adams’ blog exists to keep legal writers from steering into icebergs. Many posts focus on a single, common turn of phrase—such as “in furtherance of the foregoing”—in contracts and why the phrase should never be used. Adams also pays close attention to other writing experts in the legal blogosphere and notes where he disagrees with their assessments.
American Lawyer reporter Vivia Chen writes graceful prose without dancing around the issues near and dear to her readers, who want to succeed in law on their own terms. Some choice questions from her posts this year: Should men be gagged, tied up and forced to take paternity leave? Do you ever feel like wringing the necks of underlings who seem incapable of following your directives? Keep telling us how you really feel, Vivia, and we’ll keep reading.
This is a highly specific niche blog that nonetheless deserves its spot in the top 100 because of how utterly indispensable it is for its demographic. If you practice law in or around China or if you do any business with Chinese companies, you probably already have this bookmarked. Heck, if you’re even visiting China, give it a read because the bloggers provide excellent practical advice on not getting kidnapped. (We admit being fascinated by the anti-kidnapping advice.)
Why are we featuring an employment law blog for Connecticut and not a state with a higher population? Because Hartford-based blogger (and ‘09 Legal Rebel) Daniel Schwartz consistently impresses us with concise and incisive analysis of the latest cases and issues to arise in employment law, although occasionally venturing into more lighthearted territory. (“Ten of the Best Workplace Songs for Labor Day,” for example.)
Houston criminal defense attorney Mark Bennett has been at the legal blogging game for more than 10 years. In his posts, he sides against creating new laws and policies that might protect some but chip away at the First Amendment for all; calls out questionable ethical moves by fellow lawyers and judges in Texas; and shares random tidbits about little things he does to boost his advocacy—like taking improv classes and filing pleadings on quality paper stock.
How technology and social media affect modern employers and employment law has been a particular focus of Molly DiBianca, although she ably covers other topics as well. The blog is full of thoughtful and well-reasoned advice to employers and their attorneys; while the laws cited may be specific to Delaware, the broader principles are applicable across the country.
Brief and exceedingly timely posts by law professor Rick Hasen of the University of California at Irvine provide exhaustive coverage of the election law issues of the day. This is a good one to bookmark as an election year approaches.
As Nicholas Wagoner from Circuit Splits points out, Howard Bashman not only continues to churn out links on this appellate news-watch blog but also points readers to high-quality reporting on the subject. Bashman, practicing out of Willow Grove, Pa., also sends readers directly to federal and state court opinions so they can brush up on the latest appellate news from original sources.
“Man is only as good as the tool he uses. Mobile computing has fundamentally changed the way lawyers practice law. Jeff Richardson writes about those tools and tells us how they can be used to make us better lawyers. His reviews of apps and accessories explain critical features and limitations in the context of how a lawyer would use those professionally and in personal life beyond work.” —Ron Schultz, senior counsel at ConocoPhillips in Houston
“Gene Quinn is fearless. He is not hesitant to point out what he perceives to be injustices spawned by particular court decisions or other developments. Furthermore, when reporting on statistics concerning patents, he drills down to discuss the reasons why the numbers read as they do, or why there may be more to the statistics than meets the eye. IPWatchdog also hosts excellent guest posts on patent law developments.” —Mike Cicero, Atlanta
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley draws on his own experience in high-profile litigation as he analyzes breaking news items that raise legal questions. His posts, and those of his guests, show a particular interest in the First Amendment, rights of consumers, the rights of criminal defendants and the patently bizarre.
This South Texas College of Law professor has captured our attention with his U.S. Supreme Court-predicting algorithm, his Harlan Institute focused on education and his FantasySCOTUS league; and he has kept it with his more than 9,000 posts on the Supreme Court and constitutional law.
Trial consultants Douglas Keene and Rita Handrich find the research to alternately back up what you think you already know about human psychology (Is rudeness contagious? Yes.) and alert you to the unexpected (Are “beer goggles” real? No.) Posts are both fascinating reads and lessons on how not to base your cases on stereotypical assumptions.
If you like your law-practice-management advice tinged with humor and real talk, Lawyerist may be the blog for you. Though its format has changed a good deal since we first added it to the Blawg 100 in 2009, it’s maintained its place on our list through its thoughtful-yet-humorous takes on a wide range of LPM topics, from marketing to technology to rainmaking.
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.
Lowering the Bar’s Kevin Underhill has been making us laugh—and earning a slot in the Blawg 100—since 2010 with his legal musings. Also, check out a book Underhill published this year that stemmed from some of his writing on the blog: The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance: and Other Real Laws that Human Beings Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted, and Have Sometimes Enforced.
After 10 years of blogging, D.C. lawyer Carolyn Elefant is still a voice for solos in a profession that she feels—as far as costs and ethical obligations—favors too much those practicing at large firms. Elefant isn’t really one to blog on innovative law practice management solutions she reads about elsewhere; it’s usually her own ideas and opinions she shares with readers day after day.
Ms. JD’s blog is one way its namesake organization builds community among new or aspiring female lawyers. Some posts are written by Ms. JD’s “writers in residence,” who each commit to blogging on a particular topic—legal research or mentoring, for instance—every month for a year. Other posters, some anonymous, write about their experiences in the legal profession and offer advice or moral support.
Eric Turkewitz’s blog remains a great source for news and commentary from a plaintiffs-side tort lawyer. He may not be blogging as often as in years past, but when he does, it’s worth reading. Despite the name, it’s not all personal injury law; he talks about topics as diverse as politics, long-distance running, legal outsourcing and online extortion.
With this year’s revelations about NSA surveillance, Kashmir Hill’s privacy blog on Forbes.com should find itself with even more readers. While many posts are labeled “Headline Grab” and are more akin to tweets, Hill also composes substantive posts about topics such as how long-forgotten Facebook posts might come back to haunt you and why your baby monitor’s webcam should be password-protected.
Don’t think that Cleveland lawyer Jon Hyman limits his blog’s scope to Ohio. He follows and posts on the latest appellate jurisprudence, EEOC actions and labor-focused legislation from all over and at all stages. And Hyman’s posts are “entertaining as well as informative,” says Marriottsville, Maryland, lawyer James L. Mayer.
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’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.
Ken White and his flock are fighting a holy war for free speech. His creed: You don’t have the right not to be offended. The writing is clear, funny and instructive: Check out his semi-regular “lawsplainer” posts that offer his lawyerly take on the constitutional issues of the day.
LexBlog founder Kevin O’Keefe of Seattle blogs for a tech-savvy lawyer audience about how to make the most of their legal blogs and presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But don’t misunderstand—blogging isn’t all about marketing to O’Keefe. “Search results may not be the be-all and end-all for good law blogs,” he writes. He thinks it’s great how blogs have democratized publishing for lawyers who can now avoid gatekeepers for law reviews and trade industry publications.
“Religion Clause is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in religion in the law. It handles controversial issues in an extraordinarily evenhanded and useful manner. As a litigator working in this area of the law, I read it every morning to keep abreast of new cases and scholarship.” —Charles Gokey, the Steven Gey fellow at Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C.
Digital forensics and information security expert Sharon Nelson “gives lawyers the knowledge to protect both client and firm private data,” writes Jennifer Meisberger, practice management adviser for the Tigard, Oregon-based Professional Liability Fund. Regular posts focus on electronic evidence issues, cybersecurity trends and disastrous data breaches in the news.
No time to evaluate all the latest platforms geared toward practitioners? No worries. Bob Ambrogi has it covered at LawSites, where he test-drives the latest releases—from new law- and law practice-related apps to new e-tools for legal research, billing and document management. Reviews cover ease of use, usefulness, functionality and cost. But his blog isn’t only about technology. Ambrogi of Rockport, Mass., cross-posted his popular Lawyer2Lawyer podcast on the blog and keeps his readers up on news about ethical implications for lawyers’ use of technology.
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.
Manhattan criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield has his finger on the pulse of the blawgosphere. His early morning posts offer biting commentary, often uncovering by breakfast what we’ll be talking about for the rest of the day. Although he announced his retirement in February, by March he was back in business. “Truth be told, I was bored,” he wrote.
Susan Cartier Liebel and her rock-solid roster of contributors give comprehensive advice and frank opinions for those who are or want to be solo practitioners. Posts address both a reader’s practical questions and conflicted emotions.
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?
Paul Caron, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, covers tax reform in the news and scholarship related to U.S. tax law, and he notes celebrity tax disasters. But we like TaxProf at least as much for Caron’s exhaustive coverage of news and debates covering legal education. He became the sole owner of the Law Professor Blogs Network and a makeover of that group of blogs soon followed.
\While some of our other “geeky” blogs focus on analyzing pop culture in terms of the law, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog devotes itself to actual technology and how it affects one’s law practice. Visit it for tips on information management, discussions of new legal tech and analysis about the future of legal services.
When celebrities sue, THR, Esq. is on it. But this Hollywood Reporter blog does so much more than offer knowedgable coverage of A-listers’ fights over money, defamation or intellectual property. It anticipates legal issues that may arise as technology ushers in new ways for media to be consumed and funded.
The layout, lineup of writers and libertarian leanings have stayed the same, as well as the blog’s focus on constitutional law issues in the news (although there is a little more about legal education in the past year). Which is to say, it’s still a great blog, and there’s no other one with contributors so engaged with each other that they’ll spontaneously post dueling updates on a topic within the same day—or maybe within the same hour.
A loyal audience devours this blog seven days a week—and some readers have reported that trusted Texas Tech law professor Gerry W. Beyer will respond to them when they reach out. Beyer stays on top of new regulations in Texas ad nationwide as well as news and insights from both mainstream media and scholarly journals that affect those with estate planning and elder law practices.