6th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100
With six Blawg 100 notches on our belt, we have developed a bit of a sixth sense when it comes to knowing what it takes to have a successful blog. We know that bloggers who are passionate about their chosen subjects are more likely to have lively, engaging blogs we enjoy going back to day after day, year after year.
Success is relative, of course. Some law bloggers measure success by the business they develop. Others by the networks they’re creating. And still others get satisfaction from how blogging gives them a voice, a creative outlet.
This list includes blogs that can measure success in a number of different ways. And for the first time, we’re tipping our hats to the cream of the law-blogging crop. We’d like to introduce our inaugural Blawg 100 Hall of Fame, featuring law blogs we can’t imagine not making our favorites list each year.
Now that we’ve chosen our favorites, we’d like you to weigh in. Go online between Nov. 26 and Dec. 21 to vote for the blogs you enjoy most. If you have trouble voting or questions about anything else, please see our Blawg 100 FAQ.
On Nov. 26, follow our 2012 Blawg 100 Twitter List, featuring the 90-plus honorees who tweet. We recommend this list especially for readers new to Twitter.
Congratulations to our 2012 Blawg 100 honorees.
The products liability team at the Southeast firm of Gallivan, White & Boyd has a lot of fun with its practice area at this blog, updated with bluntly written posts every weekday. Members of the team also often go the extra mile to score and conduct their “Abnormal Interviews.” This year, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the beloved (by lawyers, at least) film My Cousin Vinny, they interviewed its director, screenwriter and a trio of its actors.
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.
Adam Smith, Esq.
If you’re interested in law firm economics, have we got the site for you. New York City consultant Bruce MacEwen’s blog is the bellwether on the latest trends in the BigLaw industry. His recent “Growth Is Dead” series of posts predict fundamental ground-shifting in the way BigLaw firms are financed and run.
Lead actor Christopher Meloni may have left the show, but don’t think that Allison Leotta is giving up on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Relying on her background as a Washington, D.C., sex crimes prosecutor, Leotta analyzes each episode for its adherence to real legal procedures. The blog was previously called the Prime-Time Crime Review, but changed its name this year. Leotta is the author of two legal thrillers, Law of Attraction and Discretion, and also blogs about tips for other crime writers.
Am Law Daily
With a team of reporters on tap and supported by a network of legal publications, Am Law Daily covers the happenings at the country’s largest law firms, from firm finances and business models to the latest lateral moves and partner defections.
Although parties reach arbitration agreements to avoid litigation, courts are often asked to rule on the specifics of arbitration validity and scope using the Federal Arbitration Act. Minneapolis lawyer Liz Kramer’s blog is a readable explanation of many of these issues, along with recent court findings, and is intended for arbitrators, in-house counsel and litigators.
At Counsel Table
Los Angeles trial attorney Alex Craigie offers insight into civil litigation with a tone that’s wry but always thoughtful. This blog is written with other lawyers in mind, providing advice to new attorneys and tips and tricks for old hands.
Attorney at Work
We’ll admit we’re wary of consultant-helmed blogs and their shopworn tips on productivity, positivity and persistence. But we like how Merrilyn Astin Tarlton and Joan Feldman often reach out to practitioners and lawyer-bloggers for their “Friday Five” posts and for answers when they tackle big questions about law practice management: How much does it cost to start a new solo law firm? How do you measure success? And these consultants’ insights aren’t half-bad, either.
This blog from Weil, Gotshal & Manges is always interesting, informative, up to date and sometimes even wacky—such as when they provide ‘bankruptcy beach reading’ during the summer, ‘tournaments’ to select the most significant cases of the past years, and ‘Throwback Thursdays’ when they review past important cases that are still important today.” —Mark Plevin of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco
The Becker-Posner Blog
We’re returning this oldie (it was launched in 2004, after all) but goodie to our list this year for those who may have previously missed it. While the lawyer half of this University of Chicago duo, Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, hasn’t come out with a new book since 2010—for him, that’s a long time—he has otherwise been on fire this year, turning out some biting writing for The Atlantic, Slate and, naturally, this blog.
The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times
For the latest legal news out of the Beltway, the BLT is a primary source. Posts and often fully reported articles from veteran legal affairs writers cover the dealmakers, practitioners and judges in the D.C. area, as well as issues of national import.
California Attorney’s Fees
“It’s so thorough in its coverage of California attorney’s fees jurisprudence. It reviews published and unpublished cases, giving me a sense of how judges actually decide cases, not just how the law reads. And so many, many cautionary tales.” —Benjamin Ramm of Wright & McGurk in Irvine, Calif.
California Corporate & Securities Law
Allen Matkins partner Keith Paul Bishop in Irvine, Calif., posts every weekday about the latest in corporate and securities law for California and Nevada. “A real joy to read as compared to other dull and dry academic presentations in this practice area!” —Alan Parness of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Manhattan
American Lawyer reporter Vivia Chen asks the legal profession’s big shots how they got to where they are and what they look for when they’re interviewing and hiring. She also takes a special interest in female and minority lawyers at the top and how those groups are faring in the profession as a whole. Posts sometimes offer tough love for those who desire both a high-powered career and a flexible work schedule.
Lawyers from Ballard Spahr write authoritatively about the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Dozens of readers told us they find posts timely, insightful and informative about the changing legal and regulatory environment involving the financial services industry. John Patience of Continental Advisors in Chicago wrote to nominate the blog: “The CFPB Monitor blog provides timely and thoughtful commentary on the rapidly evolving actions of our newest financial regulator. Each press release from the regulatory agencies seems to raise many new questions, and the [blog] does an admirable job” addressing many of them.
China Law Blog
If you want a taste of what it’s like to practice in China or the types of inquiries that veteran practitioners there field each day, then China Law Blog is a must-read. Dan Harris in Seattle and Steve Dickinson in Qingdao could hit delete or ignore the left-field and sometimes ethically questionable requests they often get. Instead, they turn inquiries and issues they come across into teachable moments, sharing their experiences and observations as they help businesses navigate Chinese law.
When federal appellate courts disagree, Houston associate Nicholas Wagoner is first on the scene at Circuit Splits, where he posts about cases ripe for review. Besides highlighting differences of opinion, Wagoner analyzes the decisions, notes when review from the highest court is likely, and then how and why the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decides.
Connecticut Employment Law Blog
Hartford lawyer Dan Schwartz covers the latest developments in Connecticut law as it relates to employers and distinguishes the significant rulings issued by the National Labor Relations Board from the run-of-the-mill ones. And when Schwartz’s firm sponsors free employment law seminars, he will blog the highlights.
Onetime practicing New York City lawyer Kat Griffin publishes this blog devoted to career and life hacks for women rising in their fields but seeking intangible insights to help them feel savvy, healthy and happy while on and off the clock. Because Griffin shares a lot of anecdotes from her own life, and because readers offer each other support in the comments of each post, this blog feels like a loyal friend. And, of course, daily items on work fashion are a valuable companion for the Web shopper.
Crime & Consequences
“For a prosecutor or anyone else who believes that people are responsible for their own actions and that justice for victims is at least as important as mercy for criminals, this blog serves up the good news.” —Dennis J. Skayhan, Berks County (Pa.) District Attorney’s Office
“Incredibly helpful when dealing with noncitizen clients charged with criminal offenses. I can get a general idea of immigration consequences and can better deal with my clients and perhaps negotiate a favorable resolution with the prosecution by knowing information in this blawg.” —Stuart Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“Mark Pryor of D.A. Confidential is like the Jerry Seinfeld or Jay Leno of the criminal law blogosphere: He can be funny, original, interesting and entertaining without using obscenity or going for the jugular,” wrote Koehler Law blogger Jamison Koehler. “And, as a former journalist, he knows how to write. It is also helpful to get the perspective of a prosecutor, even if his position constrains him a bit in what he is able to write about.” Pryor is also a novelist: His mystery, The Bookseller, just came out.
The D&O Diary
The D&O Diary is definitely corporate, but it’s also a niche blog. Kevin LaCroix of Beachwood, Ohio, exhaustively examines issues relating to managerial liability insurance. Corporate officers would do well to have this site bookmarked. But amid the very serious discussions about things like fiduciary liability insurance coverage is sometimes a hint of whimsy, like his travel tour posts.
“My colleagues and I defend mental-health respondents in civil commitment and involuntary treatment cases. Mark Bennett’s Defending People blog often has good ideas that we can adapt to better represent our clients and preserve issues for appeal,” wrote Laurel Spahn of the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission. “I also appreciate that he stands up to judges and opposing counsel and does not permit bullying or intimidation.” Houstonian Bennett also ran for the Texas Supreme Court as a libertarian this year.
Delaware Corporate & Commercial Litigation Blog
Because of its perceived friendliness to corporations, the Delaware Court of Chancery is where much corporate litigation goes down, and Wilmington-based attorney Francis Pileggi is a dedicated reporter of its findings. His excellent case summaries and explanations of Delaware law make this one to follow.
Delaware Employment Law Blog
“Molly [DiBianca] always has a practical and real-world take on the technology issues facing employers—social media, mobile and otherwise. She is not doom and gloom, and offers employers legal info they need to know to make tech work for their employees.” —Jon Hyman of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, a partner with the Cleveland firm of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz
Dewey B Strategic
“DLA Piper library director Jean O’Grady brings a lot of experience and expertise in her blog. She discusses the issues that law firm librarians face in dealing with the legal in-formation publishers and the pressures to reduce costs—all while expanding resources and dealing with shifting platforms and providers.” —3 Geeks and a Law Blog’s Greg Lambert, the library and records manager at King & Spalding in Houston
North Carolina family lawyer Lee Rosen strives to hold his own four-office practice up to the standards of technological convenience of other commercial service providers. In his blog, he documents how his firm is doing just that and tries to anticipate what his clients will need in the future as technology advances. In other sincere and to-the-point posts, Rosen writes about things like getting clients to pay their bills, dealing with associate turnover and not wasting money on ineffective marketing.
The Droid Lawyer
“Not everyone in this universe is ‘artistic’ enough to use Apple products, and for those of us who just don’t want to carry the same phone as everyone else, there is Android,” Daniel Hopkinson of the Palo Alto, Calif., office of Lowenstein Sandler wrote to us. “Jeff at the Droid Lawyer offers insightful advice into incorporating Android and other Google-related products into your law practice.” And even the publisher of iPhone J.D. has praise for Oklahoma City lawyer Jeffrey Taylor: “You might think that the last thing I would want to do is read about Android phones, but the Droid Lawyer does such a great job of covering that field that I can’t resist,” wrote Jeff Richardson, a partner at Adams and Reese in New Orleans. “I often see tips that translate to the iPhone.”
Drug and Device Law
“The best law blog that I hate to read. Written from a defense perspective by very good defense attorneys, the tone of this blog drives me nuts. But I read it religiously. So much timely and useful information for my practice (I do the same thing but on the plaintiffs’ side). I wish they weren’t so darn good!” —Chip Orr of the Mulligan Law Firm in Dallas
Legal services delivery entrepreneur Richard Granat was one of our first Legal Rebels three years back. But Granat’s vision of the future of the legal profession—full of legal document providers and other startups—is emerging this year like never before, what with the LegalZoom IPO, Total Attorneys receiving a $15 million capital infusion, and Consumer Reports taking on Legal DIY websites. For Granat, who works out of his house in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., his niche’s time has come.
Election Law Blog
“This blawg gives me up-to-date and far-ranging information about election law from all over the country—from legal scholars, social scientists, courts and the news. It’s a daily (or thrice-daily) stop for anyone interested in how we govern ourselves. Rick Hasen is a pre-eminent scholar with a point of view, but not didactically so.”—Judy Schaffert, staff attorney for the Arizona Supreme Court
The Federal Criminal Appeals Blog
Described by fans as informative, useful and insightful with a dose of nonsnarky humor, D.C. lawyer Matt Kaiser exclusively covers cases involving defendants successful on appeal. Reader Dan Kaplan of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Phoenix says, “I get regular summaries of criminal appellate decisions in my circuit (the 9th), but this blog supplements that with interesting decisions from other circuits. The summaries are thorough but short and very readable, and best of all, they include only defense wins. I have on a few occasions cited in briefs cases I learned about from this blog.”
Is time spent filling your prescription at Walgreens covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act? Is leave beyond FMLA an “undue hardship” under the Americans with Disabilities Act? For employers with FMLA concerns, this blog is the place to go. Blogger Jeff Nowak of Chicago’s Franczek Radelet provides nuanced commentary on typical and not-so-typical employment conundrums.
Gavel to Gavel
“Gavel to Gavel, a blawg and e-newsletter service of the National Center for State Courts, is an indispensable tool for those who track state legislation affecting the courts. It is well-curated, comprehensive and completely objective in its coverage of state legislation.” —Seth Andersen, executive director, American Judicature Society
The Girl’s Guide to Law School
Blog founder Alison Monahan has a JD from Columbia and landed a federal clerkship and a job at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in San Francisco. She left it all behind, but now draws on her own experiences and interviews with experts to give law students concrete suggestions on how they can handle their present course loads—like how to take notes and study in classes with teachers who veer off-topic, for instance—and plan for their futures.
Launched way back in the blogging pioneer days of 2003 by paralegal Pamela Jones, Groklaw has consistently covered the interaction of law and developing technologies, making the site a resource for those looking for sound information on litigation, news and analysis about free and open-source software. The blog is now partly overseen by New York Law School’s Mark Webbink, though Jones remains at the helm.
The Hollywood Reporter’s legal blog regularly gets exclusive scoops on breaking IP disputes going on behind the scenes of anxiously awaited films and your favorite TV shows. Other posts also cover celebrities’ contract and family law disputes as well as moves by entertainment law powerhouses.
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.
Inside the Law School Scam
“Its daily posts on legal employment, law school costs and legal academics are consistently forceful, fresh and sharply written,” wrote the Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “Unsurprisingly, the blog has had a major influence on perceptions of law schools among the entering student body of 1Ls. You can agree or disagree with its message, of course. But it’s an excellent blog,” Kerr says. Since last year, Ohio State law prof Deborah Jones Merritt has joined the University of Colorado’s Paul Campos as a contributor, and Campos has also written an e-book: Don’t Go to Law School (Unless).
“Mark Anderson, the blogger behind IP Draughts, is a leading English IP lawyer and a prolific author of books on contract drafting, so he knows his stuff. His blog posts are always interesting and insightful, and he leavens them with gently offbeat and self-deprecating humor.” —Ken Adams, the Garden City, N.Y., lawyer behind the Koncise Drafter blog
“This blog provides great tips, as well as great reviews of trends, hardware and software affecting portability in a law practice.” —Jud Barce of Barce & Reece in Fowler, Ind.
Gene Quinn’s IPWatchdog is on the trail of the latest intellectual property law news and policy developments. Posts by the Leesburg, Va., patent attorney not only alert readers to what’s new, but often provide detailed analyses of the subjects, with source materials to boot.
Posting sometimes several times a day, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley (and guest bloggers) offers immediate, provocative commentary on the news of the day. Observations aren’t always related to con law or legal theory. But posts on- and off-topic are well-written, engaging and thought-provoking.
The Jury Room
Trial consultants Douglas Keene and Rita Handrich share their wealth of knowledge about every aspect of a jury trial, from witness preparation to the latest brain research. Did you know that psychopaths often have a very poor sense of smell? Well, now you do. Be sure to check out their Twitter feed for links to new studies that could affect jury trials.
We agree with readers who find D.C. lawyer Jamison Koehler’s musings about criminal law and practice to be original, substantive and entertaining, and his humor self-deprecating. Kasey Higgins of the Burger Law Firm says, “As a newly minted attorney in the D.C./Va. area looking to build a criminal defense practice, I found Mr. Koehler’s blog incredibly helpful.” Higgins adds that the blog is “a valuable resource for new attorneys.”
The Koncise Drafter
If you draft contracts, you should be reading Ken Adams’ blog. One fan tells us she can’t imagine life as a new attorney without it. Adams, president of Koncision Contract Automation in Garden City, N.Y., and author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, is the enemy of ambiguity. “My principal responsibility is avoiding messes rather than clearing them up,” he writes in one post.
Law and the Multiverse
Is Superman liable for property damage when he pulverizes his way into a building to rescue Lois Lane? Attorneys James Daily and Ryan Davidson set out to answer these sorts of questions in their blog, which turned into The Law of Superheroes, a book released in October. Daily works for Stanford University’s Hoover Project on Commercializing Innovation and represents clients in intellectual property matters. Davidson practices in Fort Wayne, Ind., mostly in insurance law.
Wall Street Journal reporters team up here to cover and analyze newly released court decisions affecting the business community, major trials, quirky business litigation, breaking law firm news and interviews with big players. It’s an invaluable resource.
Evidenced by our eight-part Patriots Debate series, law and national security intersect—or sometimes collide—in exciting places. Authors (and podcasters) here hail mainly from Harvard University and the Brookings Institution. They are experts who at this blog point out and comment on the latest developments in weighty subject areas, including cybersecurity, targeted killing, biosecurity and the state secrets privilege. Pepperdine University School of Law’s Gregory McNeal says the blog is “mandatory reading for anyone working in national security law and policy.”
“Phil Miles has a very entertaining employment law blog, where you can get answers to such burning questions as: Why are lawyers so smart and ridiculously good-looking? And whether calling an employee a jackass is worse than calling him a moron. Even though his posts are frequently funny or odd (in a good way), he also has excellent ‘mainstream’ information as well.” —Robin Shea, author of Employment & Labor Insider and a partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Author Bryan A. Garner recently launched a column in our magazine, so we may appear slightly biased, but LawProse is still one of the best legal writing blogs out there. His “Usage Tip of the Day” is consistently fascinating and useful (slay? slew? slain?). Dallas lawyer Garner is also the editor of Black’s Law Dictionary and recently collaborated with Justice Antonin Scalia on Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.
Jordan Furlong’s blog focuses on innovation in the legal industry and how firms can keep up in 21st-century markets. The blog, tailored mostly to large and midsize firms, provides a strategic consultant’s take on what firms have to do to keep up. Furlong, who recently redesigned the site, lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario.
“This blawg covers a range of practical topics from using technology to how to be a better advocate. It’s current and has new and interesting posts on a near-daily basis. As a legal skills professor, I often link my students to these posts so that they can benefit from the advice. It’s got appeal for both students and practicing lawyers.” —Kim Holst, an associate clinical professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Legal As She Is Spoke
Student bloggers provide legal analysis of news, opinion, the arts and a catch-all category, “potpourri,” on this official blog of the New York Law School’s Program in Law and Journalism. This year LASIS is sporting a refreshed design. A recent series features dispatches from Tanzania, where a student is interning at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
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.
The Legal Satyricon
Late last year, Marc Randazza and his Las Vegas-based law group took on so-called copyright troll Righthaven and won. And Randazza continues to blog on First Amendment, copyright and fair use cases, never mincing words if he thinks the basis of a party’s accusation or defense is ridiculous.
The Legal Whiteboard
The academics who post here offer in-depth studies, charts and infographics on the law industry and legal education, particularly the economic side. Editor William D. Henderson also collaborates with ABA Journal reporter Rachel M. Zahorsky on the Law By the Numbers column in the magazine and at ABAJournal.com.
Legal Writing Prof Blog
The five law professors who edit this blog offer the latest news from academia, whether it’s a study about word usage, a YouTube video about case citations or a professorial job opening. The blog is updated almost daily and pulls from contributors with universities and law schools around the country. It’s an excellent aggregator of legal writing news.
“This website carries timely news of complicated cross-border litigation issues, which is a rarity in American legal blogs (or sources of any kind), and its author has a very broad knowledge and insight I find refreshing and/or useful every week.” —Asa Markel of Masuda Funai in Los Angeles
Litigation & Trial
It’s a close call, but this blog from Philadelphia plaintiffs-side tort lawyer Max Kennerly is more about civil litigation and being a trial lawyer than tort law per se. Lengthy posts dig deeper than the mainstream media into the cases of the day—usually tort cases. But other posts cover First Amendment topics, law practice topics and legal news of import in Pennsylvania.
Lowering the Bar
“It is the wittiest, most incisive, well-written and flat-out hilarious blawg around,” wrote Susan E. DiMaria of O’Malley, Surman & Michelini in New Jersey. “Where else are you going to read about a DUI on a Zamboni? Wyoming’s pending bill to buy an aircraft carrier? Yeah, I thought so. Check out the Case Law Hall of Fame and the Pleading Archive. Where else am I going to find an order compelling counsel to hold a game of rock, paper, scissors to settle which side takes the first dep? Our profession tends to take itself a little too seriously; this is the antidote.” Blogger Kevin Underhill, a partner in the San Francisco office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, is also hoping there’s a book in the Odd Law Project, which he started in March to collect “odd, dumb and/or unnecessary laws.”
M&A Law Prof Blog
Boston College Law School prof Brian JM Quinn covers legislation, litigation and scholarship related to mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. He also chronicles the legal foibles of the “idiots” who engage in insider trading, as well as noting CLEs and seminars covering M&A basics or transactional lawyering skills.
The Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog
“An excellent example of how to explain complex real property law and property use law to both interested law professionals and the lay public,” Ruth Dillingham, special counsel at First American Title Insurance Co. in Hyannis, Mass., wrote us. “Everyone cares about real estate.” Another reader praised the blog for keeping the state’s legal community up to date on the Eaton v. Federal National Mortgage Association case.
“I discovered Seth Leventhal’s blog by accident, looking up an interesting case in Minnesota. Turns out Minnesota has interesting cases all the time, and Seth writes them up with verve and with an eye toward broader relevance. Worth reading for any litigator.” —Max Kennerly from the blog Litigation & Trial
More than a blog, Ms. JD is a community where members and readers discuss news, post interviews, share networking opportunities and comment on the status of women in the legal profession.
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.
The Namby Pamby
The Namby Pamby, a civil litigator in Chicago, still suffers fools gladly and updates us on “facepalm moments” prompted by his clients, his colleagues and his own lapses. We’re still laughing, and we’re interested in his evolving perspective: Namby has been blogging since his law student days, but his blog (not sure about the new layout, BTW) notes he’s soon to be married, and he must be 30 by now.
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.
The Not-So Private Parts
How private can we remain with today’s technology? After all, Target may know from your shopping history that you’re pregnant before your family and friends do. Forbes blogger Kashmir Hill examines how data-gathering technology and privacy laws collide—and why you may not want to post that photo to Facebook.
Ohio Employer’s Law Blog
Jon Hyman wrote The Employer Bill of Rights (scheduled to come out Nov. 21). The Cleveland lawyer posts every weekday on decisions in Ohio and federal courts related to employees’ and employers’ use of social media, noncompete agreements, and the criteria employers can legally use in hiring and firing decisions. Posts often include pointed advice to employers as well as Hyman’s own takes on the opinions and legislation he covers.
“Overlawyered.com blogs about the American legal system that too often turns litigation into a weapon against guilty and innocent alike, erodes individual responsibility, rewards sharp practice, enriches its participants at the public’s expense, and resists even modest efforts at reform and accountability.” —Michael Schearer, a student at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law
We agree with Gene Quinn over at IPWatchdog that Kevin Noonan, Donald Zuhn—both partners at Chicago’s McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff—and their team of contributors at Patent Docs are overdue for recognition in the IP category here. Quinn notes that the two “are true experts in the area of pharmaceutical and biotechnology patents. They write the leading blog in this very important niche space. It is widely read and highly regarded.”
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.
The Persuasive Litigator
“As a busy trial lawyer with a professional and personal interest in social science research and the science of learning, this well-written, timely and interesting blog always catches my attention and delivers useful tips and information. I am incorporating the lessons from a scientific study that I learned about from this blawg into a presentation right now!” —Christina Schenk-Hargrove of Smith Duggan Buell & Rufo in Boston
Philly Law Blog
Simple Justice’s Scott Greenfield calls Jordan Rushie and Leo Mulvihill “two kid lawyers with moxie, a sense of humor and a serious focus on what it means to start out in the practice of law.” These relatively new lawyers joined forces early this year to blog and practice in their own small shop. In posts, they (mostly Rushie) log the unwritten rules they are gradually learning from experience and other practitioners about trial practice and finding clients.
For a blog named after the pontiff’s headgear, Popehat sure is irreverent. A group blog devoted to—among many other things—First Amendment rights, Popehat was established back in 2005. Although it doesn’t necessarily consider itself a law blog so much as a geek blog, its members are quite active in the online legal community.
Preaching to the Choir
Describing herself as part public defender and part sports fanatic, “Sarah” opines on instances of injustice and unfairness, and examines constitutional and evidence issues in criminal cases. Some of her blog features are woefully out of date, but her commentary on events of the day is consistent, witty and thought-provoking.
“Professor Bainbridge is often cited by the Delaware courts in their opinions due to their recognition of his expertise in corporate law. In addition to citations to his books and articles, the court also has cited to his blog posts. [UCLA prof Stephen Bainbridge’s] blog is required reading for those who want the most current insights on corporate law developments from one of the foremost corporate law scholars in the country. His perceptive posts on culture and current events are also enjoyable.” —Francis Pileggi, Delaware Corporate & Commercial Litigation Blog
Real Lawyers Have Blogs
... And if you don’t, then LexBlog’s CEO and publisher Kevin O’Keefe is about to drop some knowledge on you. A social media evangelist, O’Keefe of Seattle encourages firms to engage online not just for search engine optimization but for community building and business development. A frequent tweeter, his posts often stem from Twitter discussions with legal professionals of all types.
Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log
Georgetown law professor Rebecca Tushnet covers the issues surrounding false advertising, copyright, commercial speech and more at her long-standing 43(B)log. Her pieces offer a variety of shorter, sometimes humorous observations or summaries of issues she spots, mixed with longer, thoughtful analysis of recent opinions. We especially enjoy her posts—often quick takes—on fan fiction and other works.
Ride the Lightning
“Information security is the ultimate game of Whac-a-Mole,” Sensei Enterprises’ Sharon Nelson wrote at her blog. “One whacked, and three pop up.” Nelson’s posts cover privacy and security risks that new technologies can pose to you and your clients, as well as how companies are combating them. The Fairfax, Va.-based president of Sensei also writes about the latest e-discovery tools and how one should choose an e-discovery provider. Posts are short and to the point—nothing you couldn’t read on your phone (though be wary of the security of mobile wireless hot spots).
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. (Editors' note: The Oct. 31 Lawyer2Lawyer podcast was the final one.)
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.
Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home
“Too many employees think they know their rights, but don’t,” blogger Donna Ballman writes. It’s the thesis behind her recently released book Stand Up for Yourself Without Getting Fired, and a situation she tries to remedy with her blog. Ballman, who practices out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., picks apart severance agreements, whistleblower provisions and noncompete clauses, revealing what employees should know about the contracts they sign—and what the company’s attorney was probably thinking when he or she inserted the language.
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.
Small Firm Innovation
A collaborative effort from several well-known bloggers, Small Firm Innovation was created after the financial crisis. It is intended to offer first-person anecdotes and advice for solos and small firms. With a concentration on rainmaking and creating mobile, tech-savvy offices, the blog encourages firms to be flexible and responsive to the changing legal market.
Supreme Court Haiku Reporter
We were so fascinated with the concept of homing in on the essence of an opinion to fit the strict 5–7–5 syllable requirements of haiku that we based this year’s Ross Essay Contest on this creative writing form. If you think Twitter’s 140-character limit doesn’t give enough room to make a point, consider this blog’s post on the highly anticipated health care ruling:
Commerce clause can’t save
But taxing clause does.
We lift our pens in
salute to Keith Jaasma at
Supreme Court Haiku.
You’ve got a few more months until taxes are due, but you can read Taxgirl year-round. Philadelphian Kelly Phillips Erb blogs about taxes for Forbes, and it’s not just a personal finance blog; she also reports on political wrangling over tax legislation and tax-related news from the media. If you want to know about the tax woes of Prince and Michael Vick, Taxgirl’s your girl.
Paul Caron of the University of Cincinnati goes well beyond his bread-and-butter tax law and covers law schools and the controversies that surround them. He offers particular insights into law school rankings, doing his own analysis to highlight important developments.
Technology & Marketing Law Blog
New Web business models and business practices as they relate to social media are raising new legal questions all the time, and Santa Clara University law prof Eric Goldman and Seattle lawyer Venkat Balasubramani are on the case. They analyze recent Internet law rulings—over criminal liability for what’s posted online, consumer data breaches, online terms-of-service issues and more—while always keeping opinions in similar cases in their rearview and noting conflicts in the jurisprudence.
3 Geeks and a Law Blog
“The authors of 3 Geeks and their guests offer a range of provocative ideas about law practice management, law firm pricing, legal research, marketing and more.” —Arlington, Va., lawyer Ron Friedmann, author of Strategic Legal Technology
Daniel E. Cummins, a frequent contributor to Pennsylvania Law Weekly, is an insurance defense attorney in Scranton, Pa. Tort Talk provides in-depth analysis of recent Pennsylvania tort cases and notes CLE events and national tort reform efforts.
As a veteran legal affairs journalist and regular contributor to California Lawyer and Bloomberg News, Pamela MacLean can lay claim to being a trial insider, especially in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While MacLean writes for specific publications, Trial Insider has a wider reach, with day-to-day coverage and analysis of decisions and major developments in the courts, from budget crises to the 9th Circuit’s 107-year-old beaux arts building achieving national landmark status.
The Unwashed Advocate
Acerbic Army veteran and military criminal defense attorney Eric Mayer of Overland Park, Kan., doesn’t mince words. Though not every post is law-related, those that are give an entertaining little window into military law practice. Just don’t call him passionate about the job he enjoys: “My experience tells me that passion usually results in one of two things: poor legal reasoning or unintended pregnancies.”
The Velvet Hammer
Seattle plaintiffs PI attorney Karen Koehler trademarked “The Velvet Hammer” this past year, so don’t get any ideas. Koehler often posts blow-by-blow accounts of her trials as well as more thoughtful ones about fighting the good fight for her clients and against the “braggadocio-based trial lawyer culture.”
The law-professor bloggers at Verdict appear to have free rein to theorize about whatever interests them—and the result is a fascinating blog updated every weekday. Most posts analyze and share opinions on court arguments, lawsuits and political controversies in the news; others cover lesser-known stories with curious legal issues that have not been hashed and rehashed elsewhere.
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.
Wills Trusts & Estates Prof Blog
Texas Tech University’s Gerry Beyer keeps his readers up on the latest news in the wills, trusts and estates field, with timely, even “artistic” posts. John Rightmyer of Rothrock & Rightmyer in San Antonio describes the blog as a “fantastic resource” that is “concise, witty, interesting, and up-to-date on wills and estate problems and news across the country.”
We were delighted, and maybe a little afraid, when we learned Josh Warren met his grassroots fundraising goal to publish a casebook based solely on zombie law. Warren’s found so many instances of judges and litigators citing the living dead in opinions that he’s convinced there’s enough fodder for a full-blown casebook. Skeptical? Just check out the references to the undead that he’s chronicling on his blog, which delves into all things zombie culture-related.
Books by Blawggers
Our top bloggers are necessarily good writers. So it’s unsurprising that several books published this year are by Blawg 100 honorees. Two are crime novels; one examines the law as applied to superheroes; one recounts the flaws in our electoral system; one is a law prof’s take on the advisability of going to law school; and two look at employment law—one from the employee’s side, one from the employer’s. Take a look and see if your favorite blogger is among the authors.
The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson
Discretion by Allison Leotta
The Bookseller by Mark Pryor
Print and initial versions of the "Blawg 100" cover illustration and feature design, December 2012, should have been credited to Holly Tempka.
The Journal regrets the error.